Highlighting Art, or Indulging an Ego?


We left our lovely B&B and headed west-ish into the heart of Tuscany and the Val d’Orcia, an area so beautiful it is a UNESCO World Heritage Center. This is the area most people imagine when they think of Tuscany — square houses with thick pale peach and pink walls, terracotta tile roofs, and driveways lined with dark green, oblong trees.

We were headed to Fondazione Il Giardino di Daniel Spoerri (The Garden of Daniel Spoerri), a 16 hectare outdoor sculpture garden. Opened for the public in 1997 and can be visited from Easter until October. At the time we visited there were 112 installations by 55 artists.

In the 1960s, the Latin word for “flow” became the name of the Neodadaist group Spoerri belonged to. The movement’s artists loved to “improvise their works allowing everything to flow – hence the name ‘Fluxus’ – as if to express that life flows, without rules and full of unforeseen events” (translated from F. Bonami, “Lo potevo fare anch’io”, Mondadori, Milan 2010).

The descriptions of the Garden I found described it as “enchanting,” a kind of “sacred forest.” And since my first visit to Storm King way back in the 90s I’ve enjoyed outdoor sculpture museums. So this seemed like a no-brainer.

We didn’t love it. Some pieces were exceptional — I’ve shared them here. Many (most?) were depressing, cold, and/or just plain weird. There was a house full of glass cases full of dried heads decorated in a variety of ways. Sort of shrunken heads as societal commentary.

Now, since these were outdoors, you couldn’t just read a plaque about what the artist’s vision was, and there wasn’t great literature to purchase at the entrance (like, a guide). There was a map with a variety of walks to take through the sculptures, but that was it.

We had a lovely lunch at the on site restaurant, a salad of fresh greens and a local pasta dish, like a carbonara, but not as rich and with a different shaped pasta. It was fuel for the road as we made our way north to the place we’d be staying for the next week+, Foresteria il Giardino di Fontarronco.

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