Size Matters. Scale and Measure in Photography


Art often requires great effort. Sculptures emerge out of heavy marble blocks that have been quarried with difficulty and drawn for miles. Villas rise on lands that have been turned over, leveled and terraced. Cities are dug underground as much as they grow above it. Art is always the result of labor and chronists paid attention to its often grueling creation. Pliny, Vasari, Guy de Maupassant invited their readers to envision the amount of money, time and bodies necessary for the construction of Caracalla’s Baths, Florence’s dome and the Eiffel Tower. Mechanization, industrialization, and robotics did not erase labor, but transformed its conditions and expectations. The toil of art continues even after its alleged completion. It is laborious to restore and protect artworks. In this section two photographs dramatically show the labor involved while lowering and transporting Cimabue’s enormous crucifix, presenting these moments as the stages of a modern Via Crucis. Labor also knows a personal, intimate dimension in the manual fatigue of the artisan, who reworks surfaces to produce attractive textures. Among the photographs below is a detail of the beautifully-chiselled surface of one of Michelangelo’s slaves, those vigorous fighters of matter: the very embodiments of artistic labor.

Guglielmo Albano: cave in the surroundings of Naples, albumin print, 23.8 x 29.9 cm, before 1900, inv. no. 606350

Rabatti & Domingie Photography: detail of the Pietà da Palestrina (by Michelangelo?),h. 253 cm, Florence, Museo dell’Accademia, digital photograph, 22.7 x 16.0 cm (print), 2010, inv. no. 599850

Unidentified photographer: marble surface of one of Michelangelo’s Prisoners, Florence, Museo dell’Accademia in Florence, albumin print, 11.9 x 17.0 cm / 17.4 x 12.0 cm, around 1900, nr. inv. 8978 / 8979

Cesare or Alessandro Vasari: view of Villa Farnese at Caprarola, silver-gelatin print, 20.0 x 26.0 cm, before 1934, inv. no. 95202

Unidentified photographer: working site of the Pila Gate in Genoa, silver-gelatin print, 17.2 x 23.4 cm, 1892-1895, inv. no. 456735

Unidentified Photographer: wooden scaffolding at the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence, silver-gelatin print, 25.2 x 19.7 cm, before 1936, inv. no. 110650

E. Migliori: façade of Palazzo Guadagni in Florence with advertisement of various companies, aristotyp, 23.0 x 17.1 cm, third quarter of the 19th century, inv. no. 407671

Unidentified photographer: temple of Bacchus in Baalbek (Lebanon), albumin print, 20.2 x 13.9 cm, before 1870, inv. no. 101128

Ivo Bazzecchi: transportation of Cimabue’s crucifix to the Limonaia of Boboli Gardens after the Florence flood of November 4, 1966, baryt print, 17.8 x 13.6 cm, nr. inv. 489526/1

Ivo Bazzecchi: transportation of Cimabue’s crucifix to the Limonaia of Boboli Gardens after the Florence flood of November 4, 1966, baryt print, 19.3 x 17.8 cm, nr. inv. 489527

Ivo Bazzecchi : The corner of Lungarno Generale Diaz at Piazza Mentana in Florence, after the Florence flood of November, 4th, 1966, baryt print, 18.5 x 18.0 cm, inv. no. 498359

Unidentified Photographer: transport workers with the 4-meter high horse of the Cosimo I de’ Medici equestrian monument, baryt print, 12.1 x 17.5 cm, before 1962, inv. no. 180999

© KHI in Florence | 03.08.2021 15:58:43