Great contemporary art is back in Florence again this year. From 15 April, a preview of the important upcoming exhibition at Forte Belvedere will be presented in Piazza Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio.

In fact, after hosting the exhibitions of Giuseppe Penone and Anthony Gormley in the past two years, beginning on 14 May Forte Belvedere will reopen its gates to host “Spiritual Guards”, the major exhibition dedicated to Belgian artist Jan Fabre, one of the best-known artists on the contemporary scene. However, on 15 April the preview will be the occasion to inaugurate the other two locations of the exhibition, Piazza Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio.

It was only a few months ago that another contemporary work, “Pluto and Proserpina” by Jeff Koons, sparked the usual debate between the pros and cons on this type of dissonance, the dialogue between contemporary and Renaissance sculpture in the piazza. Now it will be Jan Fabre’s turn with a monumental bronze tortoise entitled Searching for Utopia, to be placed opposite the equestrian statue of Cosimo I by Giambologna. The tortoise, with a sail on its back and accompanied by the motto Festina lente (make haste slowly), was the Grand Duke’s emblem. The man who measures the clouds , a second work by Fabre, will take its place on the dais of Palazzo Vecchio, between the copies of the David by Michelangelo and the Judith by Donatello. In the place that symbolizes political power, the artist (whose self-portrait appears in both sculptures) counters with the power of imagination and spirituality and adopts the role of a spiritual guard, an intermediary between the earth and heaven.

Inside Palazzo Vecchio (in the Quartiere di Eleonora and Sala dell’Udienza Sala dei Gigli) the exhibition will continue its dialogue with the past. One example is the Large globe covered with beetles placed beside the 16th century globe by Ignazio Danti in the geographic maps room. The insects, in fact, constitute a leitmotiv of this versatile artist, who has experimented with very different artistic languages, ranging from sculpture to design, installations, performances, cinema and theatre – and can rightly claim to be a descendent of the famous entomologist Jean-Henri Fabre. He often disorients and, occasionally, scandalizes his audience.