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Hegemony and Consensus. Visual Ideologies in Italian Art during the Second Half of the 20th Century


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Hegemony and Consensus. Visual Ideologies in Italian Art during the Second Half of the 20th Century

Funder: University of Udine
Scientific Director: 
Prof. Alessandro Del Puppo

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This research project proposes itself as the ideal continuation of the studies published in Modernità e nazione (Quodlibet, 2013) and aims at reconstructing some of the crucial events in the redefinition of the relation between artistic production and ideologies in Italy during the 20th century.
The chronological references chosen cover more than 30 years of Italian history and three generations of authors, on the assumption of a continuity of pre- and post-war phenomena.

In particular, the following five key topics may be identified, corresponding to as many dates in the Italian twentieth-century history:

  • 1944 – The search for a third way. Ignazio Silone and Clement Greenberg: in 1939 Clement Greenberg met Ignazio Silone in Zürich, interviewed him for Partisan Review and strove (in vain) to make him leave the country for the US. A few years later Silone used a part of Greenberg's text Avantgarde and Kitsch for an article – bordering on plagiarism. The study of the materials belonging to the archive Silone and to the Fondazione Turati will contribute to define the bigger picture.
  • 1950 – Abstract Formalism: object of the study is the complex repositioning (both on the critical and pictorial level) of Corrado Cagli, who had just returned to Italy with the American troops after the exile due to the racial laws, and the difficulties in enforcing a Formalism which is confronted with mythical figures (also in the interlacing with the impressive editorial programme of the Collana viola Einaudi, that constitutes a kind of basso continuo) in a country stuck in the controversy over the realistic line supported by Togliatti.
  • 1960 – Burri and Guttuso: it is necessary to undertake at last a comparison between the two greatest and most important painters of the second half of the 20th century in Italy, two artists split on everything – from their ideological orientation to their stylistic predilections – but united in painting and in respecting some of its constants.
  • 1975 – Pasolini and Warhol: in 1975 Pier Paolo Pasolini wrote the presentation for a very important exhibition of Warhol, Ladies and Gentlemen. This was his last occasion to talk about art, homosexuality and cross-dressing. Aim is in this case the reconstruction of the events that led to the indirect meeting between the two, through the philology of the texts and the historical memory of the (few) witnesses who are still alive.
  • 1980 – The aesthetic of the flow: the depletion of the neo-avant-gardes and of the political militancy marks a new artistic approach, which was quickly adopted by movements for a post-modern restoration of the figurative tradition, through reference, allegory and anachronism. This passage will be analysed by reconstructing the critical debate of the early '80s, in particular within "esoeditoria" and non-specialist magazines, which were nonetheless able to redefine a recognizable "style".