Ex Seccatoi del Tabacco (The Old Tobacco Dryhouses)
The industrial complex, currently a museum, opened between the end of the 50’s and the mid 60’s of the XXth century. It was used for the exsiccation of tropical tobacco that was produced in a special field and which quickly spread covering vast sections of the valley in white gauze. Proper warm and humid conditions were so reproduced to enable the plants to grow; it was a different kind of farming for which unique architectural structures were built, and have now been saved from certain destruction by its present destination. The establishment served many other purposes while operative. In 1966, after the flooding of Florence, a disastrous event that caused the loss of essential documents on the history of European civilisation, the Fattoria Autonoma Tabacchi had the chance to demonstrate its commitment to cultural values not confined to the local area. It thus offered its facilities and personnel in the drying up process of the precious Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale’s damaged books, the paperwork of the Civil and Criminal Court and “La Nazione” publishing society. With the aid of specialised personnel, thousands of books were saved; a delicate operation that was made possible thanks to the professional experience of the workers. An exceptional job since it was carried out in a short period of time in comparison to the incredible size of the dryhouses. In the 70’s the cultivation, which was no longer profitable, ceased and with it the use of the dryhouses. In 1978 the owning company granted free use of one of the sheds to the Artist. In 1979 the shed was used to open the first vast pictorial cycle to the public and critics. It was called “Il Viaggio”. The purchase of the whole complex by part of the Palazzo Albizzini Foundation, made possible in 1989, started the primary project for restoration and convertion into a museum. The use of such unique buildings allowed equally unique paintings to be exposed, unique even in their size. It is a further gift from the painter to his hometown, a cheerful meeting point of ancient cultures that during the course of time produced distinctive evidence of a great civilisation. The exposition space inaugurated in July 1990 houses 128 works created between 1970 and 1993, including pictorical cycles and monumental sculptures, which can also be found on the lawn outside. The “cycles” start at the end of the 70’s: not single works but sets of inseparable works. All of the cycles (Il Viaggio, Orsanmichele, Sestante, Rosso e Nero, Annottarsi, Non Ama il Nero etc.) now permanently exposed in the former dryhouses, were initially created for specifically chosen spaces among many suggested. From the mid seventies the artist’s participation in collective exhibitions became less frequent and for personal ones he would first analize the spaces and then create works specially for them.