Swiss collectors have opened a contemporary art exhibition space in the splendid Palazzo Al Bosco estate, in the heart of the Tuscan vineyards. The inaugural display brings together some twenty works by Ólafur Elíasson, to be discovered before or after the major exhibition which the artist is enjoying at Palazzo Strozzi, in Florence.
The place is simply magical. In San Cascinao in Val di Pesa, 15 minutes from Florence, the Palazzo Al Bosco offers, from its terraces and gardens, a 360° view of the surrounding Tuscan hills, punctuated by cypresses, vineyards, pink villas and palaces. This is where the Freymonds, a couple of Swiss collectors already active in the art world with their Espace Muraille in Geneva, decided to create a ” family house and an exhibition space with intimate dimensions that allows them to share their taste for contemporary art. The inaugural exhibition is devoted to works in glass by Ólafur Elíasson from their collection, which delicately respond to the major exhibition proposed at the Palazzo Strozziin the center of Florence.
A unique place in Italy
Far removed from the bling-bling image we have of contemporary art collectors, Caroline and Éric Freymond form a discreet couple. At Palazzo Al Bosco, nothing flashy, no restaurant or shop. It is first and foremost a private property, where they receive their relatives and friends in attractive outbuildings decorated with designer pieces and contemporary art. When they acquired the estate in 2021, they first took care of the garden, which has become a real ” pristine forest “.
” What is important, emphasizes Eric Freymond, it’s nature. And it is true that I like challenges! The garden has therefore been refurbished, with its shaded terraces leading to magnificent views, its vegetable garden and its open-air theatre, which could in the future host one or two sculptures and a classical music or jazz festival. ” But we don’t want to interfere too much. It is necessary to keep an impression of naturalness, and to remain modest. As for the main villa, the famous Palazzo Al Bosco, it will serve as a setting for part of the collection. It is currently being restored, as the removal of the most recent coats of paint has brought to light beautiful painted decorations from the 18th century, with trompe-l’oeil and views of ruins in the countryside à la Hubert Robert. When the renovation is completed, the whole will constitute a unique place in Italy, combining heritage and current creation.
A press transformed into a gallery
The couple of collectors is not at their first attempt. In 2015, he created the Espace Muraille in the old town of Geneva, where major exhibitions by international artists (Tomas Saraceno in 2015, Marc Couturier in 2017, Arik Levy in 2020…), and Caroline has been in charge of the Menus Plaisir gallery in Gstaad for a long time, a boutique of exceptional objects which offers designer furniture and charming objects. In Tuscany, the Freymonds wanted to have an exhibition space open to the public but sparingly (currently one Saturday per month by reservation). They therefore converted the estate’s former press, the Tinaia Al Bosco, which extends over 230m2, into a “white cube” that can accommodate very contemporary works. The idea being to focus on monographic presentations of artists they support over the long term.
The diary of Ólafur Elíasson
The inaugural exhibition, “Borrowed Views”, was organized with the complicity of Laurence Dreyfus, independent exhibition curator and consultant in the acquisition of works of art, and is held until the end of July 2023. It brings together around twenty works by Ólafur Elíasson from the Freymond collection, mainly in glass and very poetic, superimpositions of Bohemian glass plates pierced by hand with geometric shapes, placed on thin metal or natural wood consoles. These assemblies in delicate colors are not simple abstract compositions.
They were designed by the Icelandic-Danish artist as ” a travel diary, to fix, according to his stays in Iceland, India or elsewhere, the great natural phenomena », especially eclipses, explains Laurence Dreyfus. ” It exudes a love of colors that is typical of the DNA of the Freymond collection. “, she adds. On the ground floor, in the second room, a “box” including six or seven layers of colored glass, placed in front of a bay window, enters into total osmosis with the view of the garden. A very nice idea. And upstairs, a selection of drawings with an aquatic atmosphere completes the panorama.
Eliasson in XXL at Palazzo Strozzi
This hanging offers an intimate counterpoint to the major Elíasson exhibition offered until January 22 by the Palazzo Stozzi, “Nel tuo tempo”, which includes numerous installations designed in dialogue with the Renaissance architecture of the place, including several extremely successful ones. At the beginning of the journey, on the noble floor, the artist plunges us into a contemplative religious atmosphere, with projections of light passing through the windows of the Palazzo which are similar to stained glass (Triple seing survey).
Further on, the visitor becomes a voyeur by observing in silhouette the other groups who pass behind a veil where large windows stand out (Tomorrow). Other, older works have been reactivated. In a square room, a giant semi-circle forms a complete circle thanks to its reflection in the mirror-covered ceiling (How do you live together?). Beauty, from 1993, makes visitors pass under an ultra-fine rain, in order to make them live the experience of a rainbow seen from the inside. In a large room, two works illustrate the kaleidoscopic effects dear to Elíasson, a polyhedron and a cone with striking optical effects. Fans of new technologies will not miss the virtual reality installation in the basement which takes them far, very far, into universes with rather breathtaking moving geometric decorations. Really a great exhibit.
Palazzo Al Bosco
Via Faltignano 38 50026 San Casciano in Val di Pesa, Florence, Italy
From September 18, 2022 to July 30, 2023
Italy: Ólafur Elíasson inaugurates the Palazzo Al Bosco, a new place dedicated to contemporary art | Knowledge of the Arts