We took the Eurostar (40 minutes late leaving Rome; what a cheek) to Florence for a very civilised day trip. Three items were on the agenda, and we managed all three. First stop, Santa Felicità and the Capponi Chapel for a good look at the frescoes and painting by Jacopo Pontormo et al. There’s nothing sensible I can say about them, ’cept it was worth the journey.
Then to the Museo Nazionale Alinari della Fotografia, opposite Santa Maria Novella. This was the meat in the sandwich, and very good it was too. The current exhibition is about the female breast. Funnily enough, it’s invisible on the English version of the site, but prominent enough on the Italian. And though the heart slightly sank -- oh no, titillation -- the show was actually excellent, with some wonderful images. The permanent collection is something else though. There are some wonderful images there too, but the lighting is so low it is hard to be sure. Well, that’s bit facetious, I admit, but especially in the case of photographs the whole question of “the thing itself” is thrown into sharp relief.
Given the possibility of endless reproduction, and the fact that, especially in the case of photographs, reproduction is in the nature of the art, what would be wrong with displaying the best possible “copies” under good lighting? Then, when they fade or degenerate in other ways, they could easily be replaced. Of course the museum would still hold the originals for study and stuff, under conditions suited to immortality, and visitors would be able to see the image properly, knowing that the thing itself is being properly taken care of. I for one would prefer that.
And part three? The Green Cloister, off to the left of Santa Maria Novella. Again, cracking pictures, this time by Paolo Uccello and his followers. Again, nothing I can say except what a treat this time to see both the real things and, later, the excellent reproductions available elsewhere.
And then the train home, on time, and a Thanksgiving Dinner with friends. I’m thankful for all this.