Monday, June 4, 2012

Street art Florence-style

Saturday night, while eating dinner outside at 4 Leoni in Piazza della Passera, I noticed these two manipulated street signs. The second is particularly interesting -- and artistically very clever -- from a theological/art historical standpoint.

To me, this is close to the famous Florentine artist, Giotto's Crucifix in reverse. See the image below for a comparison. Then (!) by an amazingly happy accident, or the artist's clever choice, the "crucifix" rests above a public bathroom sign.  This creates what seems to be a deliberate evocation of Adam and Eve. This subtle reference to Christian theology (original sin erased by the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ) strikes me (someone who looks at these kinds of juxtapositions in late antique, medieval and Renaissance art for a living) as nothing short of brilliant!

I love seeing it in the modern, urban environment of a city like Florence that is grounded in all three art historical realities as well as the contemporary present.

Art matters here. Art has meaning, history and, it seems, an audience that knows it's own history.


  1. That sign is definitely speaking to you, Heather! Good analysis, but hard to know... did they mean everything you think it did, or not?

    1. Bill, you are right and have perceptively hit upon the humbling part of being an art historian. As I tell my students: without documents or a living artist correcting your conclusions all any art historian can do is make their best guess. That's one of the many reasons I love working on Pixar...I can ask and be informed! : )