SU Florence launches new book series with dramatic photographic essay on Great Flood of Florence, on eve of 40th anniversary
SU Florence launches new book series with dramatic photographic essay on Great Flood of Florence, on eve of 40th anniversaryOctober 26, 2006Daeya Malboeufdmking04@syr.edu
On Nov. 4, 1966, Florence, Italy, experienced the most devastating flood in its history, which crippled the city, killing at least 30 people and destroying many of the world’s art treasures. On that day, Swietlan Nicholas Kraczyna, a 26-year-old American artist living in Florence, went out into the flooded streets and photographed the dramatic unfolding events.
“I awoke at daybreak to the sounds of the rushing river, and I saw the river beginning to spill onto the Lungarno,” says Kraczyna, who now teaches at Syracuse University in Florence (SUF). “I got dressed and with my camera in my hand I climbed over the rooftops to the other side of the street, as the entrance to our house was already flooded. Little did I know that in a few hours the whole city of Florence would be the Arno’s new riverbed.”
Kraczyna was awarded the Fiorino d’Oro — the highest honor of the City of Florence — for 10 of his photographs. Only two have been published thus far. They have been frequently reproduced in newspapers on the anniversaries of the disaster and have become emblematic icons of that historical moment.
SUF has now published for the first time “The Great Flood of Florence, 1966: A Photographic Essay,” which includes all of Kraczyna’s photographs on the flood, including the remaining eight unpublished award-winning pictures. The book will be available for purchase through Syracuse University Press at http://www.syracuseuniversitypress.syr.edu.
The book will be presented Nov. 7 in the British Institute Library in Florence. The event occurs in tandem with a series of events that the city of Florence and its major institutions will be hosting on the flood. The largest of these events is the gathering of the so-called mud angels on Nov. 4 in the Palazzo Vecchio, with a welcome by Mayor Leonardo Domenici. The mud angels were thousands of students — among them Kraczyna — from around Italy and all over the world who came to Florence and volunteered to clean up.
“This book is not only a fascinating documentary but also an artistic event, evoking powerful emotions, like any other genuine work of art,” says Carole Brzozowski, dean of SU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts.
“Kraczyna’s photographs go beyond mere documentation of the unfolding events,” says SUF Director Barbara Deimling. “They isolate particular moments, capturing the essence of the experience: uncertainty, despair and vulnerability. In their entirety, the photographs underscore the universality of the tragic event, allowing the reader to identify with the individuals involved.”
Kraczyna is an internationally known artist. He has had 136 one-man exhibitions on five continents, and his work is preserved in the renowned Uffizi Gallery in Florence. He was the technical assistant to Marino Marini for all of his color etchings and has himself become a leading artist in this field. He is one of the founders of the “Il Bisonte” International School of Advanced Printmaking in Florence, where artists such as Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore and Jaques Lipschitz worked, and where Kraczyna teaches the technique of multi-plate color etching, which he invented.
“I am pleased that this important book on the flood by Nick Kraczyna inaugurates also the new book series published by Syracuse University in Florence and distributed by Syracuse University Press, entitled the `Villa Rossa Series: Intercultural Perspectives on Italy and Europe,'” says Deimling. “This series highlights the artistic and academic achievements of the SUF faculty and professional staff, and in this way we are able to broadcast the academic and artistic work of our faculty.”