|ANNE WANNER'S Textiles in History / exhibitions|
Piazza de' Pitti, 1
THE NEW FRONTIER
Palazzo Pitti, Andito degli Angiolini and Galleria del Costume
3 July 8 December 2012
Exhibition directed by
Exhibition curated by
the kind permission of Rosalia Bonito Fanelli, her review
in TSA Newsletter, Fall 2012
see also: http://www.textilesociety.org/publications_newsletter/TSA_Newsletter_Fall_2012.pdf
|The New Frontier :
culture of the native americans
from the collections of the
Pitti Palace , Florence, Italy
July 3- December 9, 2012
Herman J.Viola , curator emeritus at the Smithsonians National Museum of Natural History, and Robert B. Pickering, Deputy Director of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, WY, (also a forensic anthropologist), have created an extraordinary display in Florences Pitti Palace.
The aim of the exhibition was to reach and inform a general public, and this has been expertly achieved. However, as a textile historian, I noticed many Old World-New World cross-currents.
The catalogue (English and Italian texts) edited by Duane H. King, Executive Director of the Gilcrease Museum and Vice-President for Museum Affairs at the University of Tulsa, with Herman J. Viola, provides a wealth of information about the Native Americans through essays on the historical
paintings of Western subjects, and photographs by Edward
Curtis, plus selected artifacts, including textiles.
The exhibition came about thanks to Laura C. Johnson, an American art historian living in Florence, who had studied at Oklahoma University, and to Osvaldo Giovannelli, formerly of the Uffizi Gallery. The New Frontier is situated within the Baroque and Victorian-style interiors of the Medici Grand Ducal palace which, in the 19th century, was a residence of the Italian kings. The resulting contrast is certainly eye-opening for European viewers.
Our 2012 TSA Symposium theme, Textiles & Politics is surely present throughout this show.
Here are share some of the things I noticed on viewing it. The exhibition is part of a centenary celebration honoring Amerigo Vespucci (Florence, 1454-Seville,1512). The four Vespucci expeditions (1497-1504) were intended to find faster commercial routes to prime luxury resources (gold, spices, silk, wool, and precious gems):
The Indies. His family belonged to the Florentine banking and textile merchant oligarchy controlled by the Medici. Amerigo first worked in the Portuguese
|and Spanish Medici branch
offices, but, was then hired by the Spanish crown to
provision and navigate the state galleons. By a quirk of
fate, his name was given to the New World, rather than
that of Christopher Columbus or Giovanni da Verrazzano. A
German cartographer, Martin Waldseemuller, had received
second-hand information concerning Amerigo
Vespuccis letters and named the area
"America" for Amerigo on his 1507 Map!
Times have not changed. Italian merchants are still seeking new far-away markets to sell their luxury fashions and goods, whether its China, Africa, or Brazil. We are now living at a crucial time. Politically, the generational transition which occurred within Native American tribes from the 1870s land-tenure treaties to their Euro-American education and acculturation, closely parallels the present time, in which the European Community is seeking to become the United States of Europe. Even now there is an overwhelming global fusion accelerated by the internet. And where might the next new frontier beouter space travel?
Clothing is a marker of belonging to a global tribe. Italian fashion stylists and designers immediately raided the New Frontier show! The wonderfully soft deerskin boots in the exhibition have already become coveted
|fashion objects. In fact,
one of the 2013 trends at the recent Florence Pitti
Fashion and Textile trade shows ran along the same lines
as this exhibition: vibrant colors, concha belts,
beading, silver jewelry, and moccasins. The 1970s
Western-look is already being produced and sold as
That is something to ponder. It seems to me that this exhibition has turned the tables around: the New World is being re-discovered by the Old World, thanks to the vast Native Americana collections of the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, founded in 1949 by the Oklahoma oil magnate, Thomas Gilcrease (1890-1962), who is of Muskogee (Creek) heritage.
Lorenzo di' Medici and Thomas Gilcrease would certainly have understood each other. Both were astute businessmen. Both shared an overwhelming desire to collect objects of beauty and were highly aware of the historical past that they represented:
they were patrons of the arts who persevered in spending great sums to amass incomparable collections.
http://www.unannoadarte.it/eng/america.html - Rosalia Bonito Fanelli
|home content||Last revised 12 October, 2012|