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  • Writer's pictureMary Gray

A Brief History of Centro di Cultura Contemporanea Strozzina in Florence

What is Centro di Cultura Contemporanea Strozzina?

Centro di Cultura Contemporanea Strozzina is an avant-garde space where interdisciplinary and contemporary ideas take precedence.

Centro di Cultura Contemporanea Strozzina

Chabe01, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Centro di Cultura Contemporanea Strozzina History

We hate to break it to you, but spend long enough in Florence and it’s true: Renaissance and medieval fatigue will eventually set in. When it happens, a select few spaces around the city offer a contemporary and avant-garde antidote.

Ironically, of course, many of these spaces are contained within Renaissance structures. The Centre for Contemporary Culture, also known as CCC Strozzina, is a prime example, and forms part of the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi. The latter is the largest temporary exhibition venue in town, housed in an opulent 15th-century palace that once belonged to the noble Strozzi family, who were bankers and rivals to the better-known Medici.

But we digress. You’re presumably here to take a break from quibbling families and canonical frescoes. The ultra-modern Strozzina was created in 2007 with the aim of giving Florence an international hub for contemporary arts. Since its opening, CCC Strozzina has shown works by artists of international renown such as Bill Viola, Damien Hirst, Cindy Sherman, Marina Abramović and Antony Gormley. While many of these exhibitions have been part of larger ones at the main space upstairs, others have been unique to the Strozzina.

Pay attention to the courtyard as you approach the centre’s entrance. Many locals use this as a scenic shortcut between high-end shopping drag Via de’ Tornabuoni and the historic Cinema Odeon across the way. Here imposing columns serve as structural supports for a series of converging entrances and staircases. At the centre of the courtyard, you nearly always find a temporary exhibit – an installation or artwork that’s usually connected to the major exhibition of the day. Featured focal points in the past, many of them site-specific, have included the van Marina Abramović used on her travels through Europe with her lover Ulay; a silver slide developed by Carsten Höller and Stefano Mancuso; and a gargantuan inflatable, colourful ladder created by Paola Pivi.

With the larger foundation spotlighting household names, a fundamental component of the CCC Strozzina is its continued support of and collaboration with young or yet-to-be-established artists. It’s a bridging space of sorts, aimed at fostering dialogue and reflections on contemporary art in a city whose Renaissance heritage reigns supreme and still dictates much of the current art scene. Beyond its own exhibitions and spin-off shows, the CCC Strozzina regularly forges new partnerships with local and international institutions, and occasionally hosts free-admission activities such as lectures and lively educational and participatory programs for students.

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