THE FLORENCE INTERNATIONAL ANTIQUES FAIR
The International Antiques Fair of Palazzo Strozzi was launched in 1959 and was repeated at two-yearly intervals in the prestigious salons of Palazzo Strozzi up to the 18th Biennale in 1993. It originally stemmed from the inspired idea of Luigi Bellini Sr., who wished to attract to Florence both the very best of Italian antiques and dealers from abroad, creating a gathering of antiquarians in a position to offer a wide possibility of choice in the sphere of collecting and antiques to the Italian clientele generated in the wake of the economic boom. Over the following years the event obtained conspicuous support from the Florentine civic authorities, which saw the Biennale as a means of restoring to the city the central cultural role which it had so frequently held throughout its history, while at the same time fostering all those forms of art and craft that represent such an important part of the economic fabric of Florence.
The overwhelming success of the first show and of those that followed marked the launch of a market season that pivoted increasingly on the Fairs.
Among the principal reasons for this success we should recall the high degree of selection applied to the participant dealers, which was matched by the equally qualified selection of visitors, attracted in particular by the fact that this fair was the first in the world of the post-war period, and above all by the fact that it was held in Florence, a city that has always been the heart of the international world.
When Palazzo Strozzi was no longer available, in 1995 at the time when Guido Bartolozzi was the Secretary General, the Fair was temporarily transferred to Palazzo degli Affari, and then two years later in 1997 to Palazzo Corsini sull'Arno. The latter turned out to be an ideal alternative for a number of reasons: the beauty of the building, the central location permitting easy access and the closeness to the part of the city where the most famous antique dealers, the luxury shopping streets and the most important hotels of the city centre were located. In 2001, to harmonise the magnificence of the building and the premises with the requirements of such an important antiques fair, the new Secretary General Giovanni Pratesi commissioned the famous architect and scenic designer Pier Luigi Pizzi to redesign the layout and decor of the Fair. With the utmost respect for the unique charm of the Palazzo, he came up with a most elegant distribution of the internal and external spaces which permitted a functional and evocative arrangement of the antique objects. This highly appreciated innovation, supported by a meticulous advertising campaign carried out by highly qualified press agencies, has by now mapped out a route that will inevitably lead the organisers of the event to repeat the outstanding public and critical success of the most recent editions.