Birth by Spear, the permanent work conceived by Alan Sonfist for Tusciaelecta. Contemporary art in Chianti which, this year, earmarked the area adjacent to the old terracotta ovens as exhibition space.

This renowned artist who has always been attentive to the relationship with the environment in the broadest sense of the term, selected an extant olive grove near the old Poggi oven as the location and source of inspiration for his latest work.

The starting point for this project was the artist’s interest in how the olive has evolved – a very rich story that crosses the whole Mediterranean and which has a particularly high profile in our landscape.

The result is an environmental installation in the shape of a giant olive leaf (some 30 metres long) with a pathway in terracotta round its perimeter. Trees and bushes of the ancient species of plants that traditionally grow alongside the olive have been planted inside the space and will become the basic element of this ancient landscape, bearing witness to the mythological and botanical evolution of the olive.

The artist, however, is oriented towards a spatiality that also evokes historic or mythological memories. A long spear stretches out from the centre of the leaf, symbolising the birth of the olive in the representation of ancient Greek and Roman mythology according to which the spear-bearing goddesses Athena of Greek mythology and Minerva her Roman counterpart are the “mothers” of the olive. The spear, therefore, marks the space and evokes ancient beliefs while the work as a whole will be both a monumental visual sign of the time, and a place of knowledge of native botanical history for an international public and the local community.

The artwork is part of the terracotta’s tour organized by Contemporary Florence

Alan Sonfist [New York, 1946]

Alan Sonfist is an artist whose interest lies in relating to the environment in the broadest sense, and in particular to creating a spatiality evocative of mythical pr mythological memories

In 1965 he created Time Landscape TM, the first “urban forest” in New York, which was sponsored by public and private bodies, the reconstruction of a pre-colonial forest inside a contemporary metropolis which brought him immediate international fame. Subsequently, his provocative use of urban areas won Sonfist critical acclaim and made him an important point of reference for landscape theorising and planning.

Today, the artist continues to further the cause of “ecological environmental art” in an attempt to make public opinion aware of global climate change.

He has received recognition and funding from both private and governmental organisations including The National Endowment for the Arts, the Graham Foundation for Art and Architecture, The Chase Manhattan Bank Foundation and the Information Agency.

His works are exhibited on the collections of important institutions including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Dallas Museum of Art, Princeton University Museum, The Museum of Modern Art – New York, The Whitney Museum and The Ludwig Museum in Aachen Germany.