Feb 2019 - Kiki Smith tapestries & sculpture at the Palazzo Pitti

Dear friends and family,

We are in Florence for the opening of Kiki Smith’s tapestries and sculptures at the Palazzo Pitti. Magnolia Editions and Kiki Smith have worked together on the creation and publication of the 12 tapestries over the last several years, starting in 2012. We felt that we could not miss seeing Kiki recognized in this way nor the opportunity to view the tapestries hanging in the Palazzo Pitti.

The day before the preview opening we got the news that the tapestries and other works had been held up in shipment and were still in New York. Only two works were in Florence, one tapestry and one sculpture. Era was in mild shock, some of Kiki’s gallerists were enraged. People had flown in from locations around the world. Kiki herself was taking it in stride. It’s art; it’s not world peace was her reported comment. An admirable attitude.

The next day, the day of the scheduled private preview, in an attempt to receive the tapestries and sculptures and give the preparators time to unpack and install the entire exhibition, the time of the preview had been changed from noon to after dinner … so, things still looked dire and borderline impossible.

Nevertheless, we attended a luncheon in a lovely club-like restaurant (Colle Beretowith the artist, Kiki Smith; gallery directors and staff from Pace (NY), Galleria Continua (San Gimignano); Galleria Lorcan O’Neill (Rome), Timothy Taylor Gallery (London), Curator Renata Pintus and Curator and Director of the Pitti Museum, Eike Schmidt and others, including collectors. There, we further learned that Eike had pulled some strings with friends at airlines and Italian customs, and the works, including the tapestries, would arrive late that afternoon – that is to say, in a few hours. That sounded hopeful.

During lunch Nicholas, Kiki and Don related to Eike Schmidt a synopsis of his cinquecento paper research. After lunch Mr. Schmidt walked Don, Era and David Wild (who came down for the event from Venice where he is working) to the Uffizi to meet their paper conservator – There, entering through the employee enterance, we received passes in exchange for our drivers licenses and, after a lovely visit with the paper conservator, spent a short time walking through the museum and revisiting some of our favorite masterpieces.

The paper conservator, whose name was Mauricio, I believe. I don’t remember his last name, but we were assured (not by him) that it was a long-revered and respected Florentine name. That’s a relief. We wouldn’t want to be associating with a person whose family name was undistinguished😉. Actually, he was a very nice man and spent quite a bit of time with us.

The plan was that, assuming the works did arrive, a team of museum preparators would install the works while we had our next meal –a relaxing dinnerat Cantinetta Antinori with 50 guests: crostini, salads, Florentine steak, roast potatoes, with champagne and fine wine and a torte for dessert. Kiki was there at the dinner, of course, along with the museum and gallery people and collectors, and Nicholas Price, his wife, Alyssa, and David. We could only hope that all works had arrived and installation was progressing. During dessert, we got the word that the exhibition was installed! Amazing.

The gentleman next to Era is Fabio Gori with his wife Virginia. They have 80 works of land art on their property, including a work by Daniel Buren. Virginia (I hope I have her name right) works with Israelis and Palestinians, bringing the two cultures together. Don mentioned that he had recently obtained some quarried chalk from Elba and Fabio told us he had a summer house in Elba.

We walked en masse to the Pitti Palace (about a 10 min walk) to find the work miraculously and beautifully installed (30 installers working 3 hours - 90 person hours). Wow, they really pulled that off, giving us all some nail-biting excitement. The museum director divulged to us that this late-night opening was extremely rare at the Pitti Palace. We heard that there had been a previous somewhat unorthodox evening event once before at the museum, but Russian billionaire oligarchs had to pay through the nose for that privilege.

Florence at night.

Crossing the Arno.

The Palazzo Pitti at night. They've managed to change the banners also.

Both the Palazzo Pitti and the Uffizi have long stretches of stone stairways.

Kiki Smith and Director Eike Schmidt in front of Spinners tapestry.

Sky and Cathedral tapestries; Sojourn can be glimpsed through the doorways.

Some last minute adjustments.

Nicholas Price and Kiki

Kiki and Aldo (he prefers to go by Aldo now; at least until we are over our current presidency).
Era and David Wild

Alyssa Erickson, Nicholas’s better half.

❤️Love from Firenze,

Era and Aldo