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

Imagined Baroques offers a new account of Italian post-unification visual culture through its entanglement in the Baroque. The book argues that, by reinventing Baroque forms in their artistic and architectural practices, modern Italians confronted their fears about their nation’s past and imagined future. Although ignored by most scholarship, the Baroque was repeatedly evoked in modern Italian visual culture and intellectual history. This is so because, between the fin de siècle and the end of the Second World War, the reception, influence, and disavowal of the Baroque enabled Italians to probe the fraught experience of national unification, addressing their ambivalent relationship with modernity and tradition. The Baroque afterlives in modern Italy, and its temporal and conceptual destabilisation, allowed Italians to work through a crisis of modernity and develop a visual culture that was both distinctly Italian and modern. Imagined Baroques interrogates a diverse range of media: not only paintings, sculptures, and buildings, but also magazine illustrations, postcards, commercial posters, pageants, photographs, films, and exhibitions. The Baroque functioned in post-unification Italy as a legacy of potential annihilation but also of potential consolidation, and as a critique of modernity and a celebration of an intrinsically Italian road to modernity. Unearthing the protean and contradictory legacy of the Baroque in modern Italy shows that its revivals and appropriations were not repositories of exact facts about the seventeenth century but rather clues to how visions of modernity and tradition merged to form a distinct Italian identity.

Elza Adamowicz

: painting itself’ (1996: 18).1 Picabia has appropriated here images from the neoclassical artist Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres: the female figure recalls the figure in Ingres’s painting La Source (1820; figure 3.2) as well as Roger délivrant Angélique (1818) (Pierre 2001: 137). Picabia’s painting, with its shift from high art to fairground target, can be read as an acerbic parody of the neo-classical revival promoted by the ‘return to order’ which dominated art and politics in post-war France. Rejecting the denial inherent in the State’s promotion of the integral body

in Dada bodies
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Spare parts
Elza Adamowicz

and body politic which the post-war ‘return to order’ was actively seeking to suppress or deny. Dada’s bodily images are overt fictions and fabrications which act both as a reflection of the disjunctive body of the early twentieth century, and a reflection on the dehumanised body of wartime and post-war Europe. Moreover, Dada’s strategies of perversion or subversion of the normative body transcend the simple act of resistance against social norms and initiate an exploration of new modes of individual or collective experience, offering a blueprint of the possible

in Dada bodies
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The Seicento and the return-to-order
Laura Moure Cecchini

Antonio Canova, aspired to a purified, idealised, and synthetic representation of reality – to a ‘classic’ approach. Conceptualising the Baroque as a form of classicism encouraged young Italian painters to revere seventeenth-century artists as a form of resistance against the alleged excesses and internationalism of the avant-garde, while still emphasising their modern identity. Rossana Bossaglia has described this Italian return-to-order as a ‘modern counter-avant-garde’, and Robert Storr coined the expression ‘modern art despite

in Baroquemania
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Author: John Potvin

Richly illustrated with over 110 colour and black and white images, the book productively contests the supposedly exclusive feminine aspect of the style moderne (art deco). It explores how alternative, parallel and overlapping experiences and expressions of decorative modernism, nationalism, gender and sexuality in the heady years surrounding World War I converge in the protean figure of the deco dandy. As such, the book significantly departs from and corrects the assumptions and biases that have dominated scholarship on and popular perceptions of art deco. The book outlines how designed products and representations of and for the dandy both existed within and outwith normative expectations of gender and sexuality complicating men’s relationship to consumer culture more broadly and the moderne more specifically. Through a sustained focus on the figure of the dandy, the book offers a broader view of art deco by claiming a greater place for the male body and masculinity in this history than has been given to date. The mass appeal of the dandy in the 1920s was a way to redeploy an iconic, popular and well-known typology as a means to stimulate national industries, to engender a desire for all things made in France. Important, essential and productive moments in the history of the cultural life of Paris presented in the book are instructive of the changing role performed by consumerism, masculinity, design history and national identity.

Elza Adamowicz

incalculable loss and destruction, and the complacent, compensatory return to order and rationality. The character of the jester is perhaps best embodied in Dada film, a privileged medium for questioning the stability of the body as a distinct(ive) unity and staging, instead, the self in a state of flux. Through techniques such as superimpositions and dissolves, montage or optical tricks, bodies are free to merge or fragment, multiply or disintegrate, reify or revive. Tellingly, Dada films sometimes betray an ambivalence that signals both nostalgic regression to pre

in Dada bodies
The reimagination of Baroque sculpture during Fascism
Laura Moure Cecchini

developed by the Catalan critic Eugeni d’Ors – conducted in order to question both Croce's and the return-to-order anti-Baroque stance. D’Ors was, as Gregg Lambert has observed, ‘largely responsible for the dislocation of the Baroque from its historical period’, and his work offered alternative ways of reading the cultural politics of this style by approaching it as the expression of a transcultural and transhistorical worldview rather than of a specific historical period. 67 In the early 1930s, Anceschi published several

in Baroquemania
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Toward Vichy
Chris Millington

of war. In fact, ‘Malval’ wrote: ‘Already in some communes where foreign elements were starting to agitate in recent days, all that was needed was for some veterans to act as police (faire la police) so that things returned to order.’44 These remarks offered a chilling harbinger of Vichy’s ­combatants’ Legion. • 215 • From victory to Vichy Throughout 1939, relations between the UF and the UNC continued to be warm. The policy-making committees of both associations dined together on several occasions. Provincial groups had close relations: the UNC’s Lacquièze

in From victory to Vichy
Giuliana Pieri

emphatic gestures and expressions. Italian painting and sculpture in the aftermath of the First World War went through the difficult transition from the stylistic innovation of the avant-garde, under both home-grown and foreign models, to the much celebrated (by the regime) and misunderstood Portraits of the Duce163 1  Ettore di Giorgio, Dux (by later ­generations) ‘return to order’, creating thus a complex stylistic landscape in which the traditional forms of nineteenth-century realism came to a halt, leaving a gap of both form and content, which was filled, as we

in The cult of the Duce
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Elza Adamowicz

: Shit Collection: works by L. Rosenberg’ (‘Parmi les ventes publiques: Collection Caca: oeuvres de L. Rosenberg’); ‘Painting and its laws. What should come out of cubism’ (‘La peinture et ses lois. Ce qui devrait sortir du cubisme’, signed Albert Gleizes), followed by a Picabian ‘De la MERDE!’ Such scatological statements dynamite the art establishment’s acceptance of the ‘return to order’ (now including Cubism, tamed and nationalised by 1918) in favour of Dada’s enthusiastic promotion of non-European artistic forms, represented here by the African sculpture. The

in Dada bodies