Self-portraits by comic book artists to hang in Uffizi

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MILAN (AP) — Italy’s Uffizi, the Florence museum that houses some of the Western world’s most famous art, is expanding its collection of self-portraits with works by comic book artists in an effort to broaden its audience, museum director Eike Schmidt said Wednesday.

Self-portraits by 52 of Italy’s most well-known comic book artists, commissioned as part of an initiative by the Uffizi, Italy’s culture minister and Lucca Comics & Games, form the kernel of the new collection. The comic book artist collection will grow each year to include a portrait by a “grand master” chosen by Lucca Comics, an annual convention held in the Tuscan city of Lucca.

“From today on, comics enter the collection of the Uffizi,…creating a new field of collection at the Uffizi Galleries,’’ Schmidt said during a news conference in Florence.

Schmidt said comics had been neglected in the museum world and that the museum’s effort to correct that followed in the spirit of Cardinal Leopold de Medici, who launched the existing portrait collection in the 1600s, commissioning portraits from artists he knew personally.

The 52 new portraits will be exhibited in Lucca during Oct. 8-Nov. 1 and then moved to the Uffizi, where they will join a permanent collection containing works by masters such as Botticelli, Michelangelo, Caravaggio and Leonardo da Vinci.

“The Uffizi thus becomes one of the first museums of classical art to bet on the vitality and creative force of the ninth art,’’ Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said.

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