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Art and Streets in Europe: second stop, Florence!

Updated: Apr 14, 2021

Second appointment with the column 'Street Art and Graffiti in Europe', this time we move to Italy, more precisely to Florence, one of the cradles of the Italian Renaissance, to talk about #Blub, an Italian artist who moves between street art and illustration with a personal and unique style.

Florence is not exactly one of the capitals of the Italian urban art movement, although in recent years it has experienced a boom in the street art sector. There are many prominent names in the Florentine city today, including the famous art group #ExitEnter, which has already collaborated with the #StreetArtMuseumAmsterdam in the past, giving us some works of great quality, such as 'Music' created in in the Confucius Playground in 2018.

The growth of the urban movement has also led to the creation of a Urban Art map by the 'Portale Giovani' of the municipality of Florence, which you can view and download for free HERE in view of your next trip to Tuscany! Another map is that of the association 'Firenze Street Art', which you can also find HERE!

Today we are going to talk about #Blub, an Italian street artist who has become particularly famous thanks to his series "L'arte sa nuotare" ("Art can swim"), which is gifted with a unique and daring expressive power. Started in 2013 with an experiment in a small village in Catalonia, the series was later developed by the artist entirely in Florence and then reached other cities, such as Cremona and even museum spaces with the exhibition 'Blub. L'arte sa nuotare' at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli in 2019.

Blub's world is mostly made up of figures from the Italian Renaissance tradition: Leonardo, Tiziano, Raffaello and Botticelli are just some of the artists from which the contemporary Florentine artist freely draws inspiration. In the process of artistic appropriation, Blub reinterprets these iconic figures from the history of art and projects them into public spaces in Florence, often in doorways or advertising spaces that also serve as a frame to reinforce the connection with the original artwork.

Blub's figures, created using the paste-up technique, are thus characterised by a vigorous realism and detail to the elements. The only agglutinative iconographic element between the different works is the diving mask, an object that has become the artist's distinctive element. Leonardo, Botticelli or Raffaello find themselves immersed in the ocean in a "dimension, suspended, timeless, without noise" as the artist himself states. The curious choice of setting the figures in these spaces is intended as a metaphor to indicate the cultural and eternal power of art which, despite the difficulties, is always able to "swim", resist and thus be a bulwark for our society.

Blub is continuing his work of artistic dissemination even today in 2021, despite the many difficulties caused by the health situation, he still is one of the most prolific artists on the scene. The arrival of the pandemic also coincided with the addition of a new iconographic element to his work: the surgical mask, which is often inserted into Renaissance figures to create powerful contemporary allegories about the period we are all living in.

Blub is a must for your next visit to Florence and demonstrates how a classical Tuscan city can also be a cradle for new artistic practices, such as urban art.

If you want to know more about this artist, we leave some useful links available!

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