George Tatge: Italia Metafisica at Villa Bardini – Florence
February 22 – March 22, 2015
Opening reception: February 21, 2015, at 5pm
[Press Release] Italia Metafisica: An exhibition of 66 works by photographer George Tatge — symbols, signs and sacred geometries inspired by the structures man has built on Italian soil. Not only architectural structures, but minor constructions or simple objects he has left behind—mysteries and metaphors of his brief presence and his passing on. Promoted by Villa Bardini with the patronage of the City of Florence and the collaboration of the Consiglio Regionale della Toscana in the context of the Festa della Toscana and with the contribution of BassmArt, part of the Bassilichi Group. Curator, Diego Mormorio. Entrance to the exhibition is free upon payment of the reduced fee for visiting the Villa which includes visits to the Annigoni and Capucci museums and to the panoramic terrace.
Following the major exhibition, Presences—Italian Landscapes, which opened in Villa Bardini in 2008, devoted to the transformations of the Italian countryside, George Tatge offers us another series of images dealing with the relationship between man and his environment. In this case it is man rather than nature that holds the center stage, with all his creations and the social, industrial and religious connotations they embody. From Roman temples to suburban condominiums, from Renaissance churches to abandoned factories, man has left everywhere his profound mark. What we are shown here are fragments of reality, bizarre and surreal juxtapositions which, through the ambiguity of their contents, offer themselves to the viewers’ interpretations. Some of the places Tatge has photographed recall the visions of painters that worked in the first part of the 20th century, but the term Metaphysical was chosen in this case to underline the photographer’s intention to use physical space to express an abstract concept or simply a state of mind. In other images we find allusions to the Surrealists, to their fascination with symbols and the subconscious, subjects that have always been present in Tatge’s poetic work: Photography, an art as fragmentary as poetry. The film ‘Light and Silver, The Photographic Life of George Tatge’, by the Canadian film maker David Battistella, will be shown at the exhibition. Music by William Tatge, musician and composer who lives in NYC and is George’s son. The exhibition will travel to various cities after the Florence venue, as Presences did, opening in Trieste, Perugia, La Spezia, Roma and Paris.
A volume published by Contrasto, Rome, with texts by Diego Mormorio and Carlo Sisi accompanies the show. Tatge, observes Mormorio, “shows us an Italy of striking as well as of subtle marks, all unmistakably Italian. A skill he has been recognized for over time, a special sensitivity, the touch of a maestro. His series of unforgettable orti (kitchen gardens) comes to mind. Beautiful, almost smelling of vegetables. Small, haphazard, hidden away, that seem to invite you to walk through them. But sadly only with your eyes can you caress them from a distance, through the photographs. Once you have seen Tatge’s gardens, however, you will begin searching for them yourself. Just as you might go searching, and find, the light that passes through the Etruscan Gate of Perugia in one of the first photographs of this show. In this way, from his images, we receive not only an invitation, or better, a series of invitations, but a promise. We seem to hear the voice of an unnamed Goddess saying “You will be permitted to go there, where you already are. Remember to water the plants and with your hand to caress the stones.”
“The sequence of Tatge’s photographs,” writes Carlo Sisi, “appear in that definitive and transfiguring black and white that Tatge has accustomed us to. It appears to me that the meaning of this Italian journey lies in the poetic conviction that the ancient, the modern and the future coexist in discreet creative and inspiring places and that the figurative storehouse of the past must be used as an inheritance, material to be reinvented and perpetually renovated. For this reason the quotes of cities and landscapes, extracted as if they were words taken from a famous passage and passed on to the metaphysical enigma of estrangement, effectively summarize George Tatge’s poetic technique: an unconventional esthete of borderlands, archeologist of our recent failures, “artiere” (as the metaphysics of the 20th century liked) of a reality both imagined and real.”
George Tatge was born in Istanbul in 1951 of an Italian mother and American father. He lived in Europe and in the Middle East most of his youth and studied English Literature at Beloit College in Wisconsin, where he also began photographing under the guidance of the Hungarian photographer Michael Simon. In 1973 he moved to Italy where he worked in Rome as a journalist and then in Todi, Umbria, where he lived for 12 years working as a freelance photographer and writer (reviews for Art Forum). His first exhibition in Italy was in 1973 at the Diaframma Gallery in Milan. His first book, Perugia terra vecchia terra nuova, came out in 1984. From 1986 to 2003 he was Director of Photography at the Alinari Archives in Florence, for which he produced photographs throughout Italy, published in many of their volumes. He has held workshops and exhibitions throughout the world and his photographs can be found in major museum collections in the U.S. and in Europe, such as the Metropolitan Museum of New York, the George Eastman House in Rochester, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Centre Canadien d’Architecture in Montreal, the Helmut Gernsheim Collection in Mannheim, and the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris. Some of his most significant exhibitions: The American Academy in Rome (solo) in 1981, the MASP of Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1988 (solo), the Venice Biennale in 1995, The Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice in 2005, The ReissEngelhorn Museum in Mannheim in 2003, The George Eastman House in Rochester in 2004, Rome’s MAXXI in 2007, and his solo exhibition “Presences–Italian Landscapes” which opened in Florence in 2008 and travelled to five other cities until 2010. That year he was awarded the Friuli Venezia Giulia Prize for Photography. He lives in Florence, Italy.
February 22 – March 22, 2015
Hours: From Tuesday to Sunday 10am—7pm (last entrance at 6pm). Closed on Mondays.
Catalog published by Contrasto, Roma (120 pagine, 29 euro). On the occasion of this exhibition, entrance to the show is free with the reduced entrance to Villa Bardini of € 6.00. Reduced entrance to the Villa for visitors between the ages of 7 and 14, students, groups of more than 10, members of ACI, Touring Club, Unicoop Florence, FAI and holders of tickets to the Museo Novecento, Museo di Palazzo Vecchio and Firenze Card, members of FAI youth and holders of tickets to the Boboli-Bardini Gardens. Free entrance to school groups accompanied by a teacher.