Baroque Futurism
Roberto Longhi, seventeenthcentury art, and the Italian avantgarde
in Baroquemania
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Chapter 3 examines the Baroque’s rediscovery among a new generation of Italian art historians, focusing on a young academic and his relationship to the avant-garde: Roberto Longhi. One of the most important twentieth-century connoisseurs of Baroque art, in his youth Longhi was quite sympathetic to the Futurists. On the eve of the First World War, he described Futurism’s superiority to Cubism by comparing the former to the Baroque and the latter to the Renaissance - using the formal schema developed by Heinrich Wölfflin in Renaissance and Baroque (1888). Such a comparison between the avant-garde and the historical Baroque led Longhi to argue that the Baroque was quintessentially Italian and was also the origin of modernism, putting into question both French-centred narratives of the birth of modern art and German-centred interpretations of that style. Like other art historians of his time, Longhi analysed the Baroque and Futurism through the tropes of ‘Latinity’ versus ‘Germanity’. Although he avoided chauvinistic and racist proclamations, Longhi’s work engaged in conversations about national identity, the place of Italian art in the history of the avant-garde, and Italy’s geopolitical aspirations on the eve of the First World War.


Italian visual culture and the construction of national identity, 1898–1945


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