Twentieth century. Art and life in Italy between the wars

    2 février – 16 juin 2013

    Date: 02/02/2013

    Event: Twentieth century. Art and life in Italy between the two wars
    Forlì | Forlì-Cesena
    Place: San Domenico Museums

    Official site:

    After having dedicated a major exhibition to a protagonist of the Twenties of the twentieth century like Wildt, Forlì intends to deepen another moment of the figurative culture of the last century, in relation to the climate of an era that has left a strong mark, especially from the urban point of view and architectural, on the city of Forlì and on many other centers of Romagna. In the first post-war period, from which the exhibition begins to advance to the tragic epilogue of the Second World War and the fateful 1943, Italian culture, through its best exponents, felt invested with the mission of creating new artistic expressions for the twentieth century, century that had not actually revealed itself yet.

    The most lucid interpreter of this mission was the scholar Massimo Bontempelli, who in 1926 giving life to the magazine “900” declared: “The twentieth century took a long time to tick. The nineteenth century could not end until 1914. The twentieth century does not begin until a little after the war “. The new exhibition at the San Domenico Museums intends to evoke a climate that has seen not only architects, painters and sculptors, but also designers, graphic designers, advertisers, cabinetmakers, goldsmiths, fashion creators engage in a great common project that responded, through a profound revision of the role of the artist, to the demands of the so-called “return to order”.

    The rappel à l’ordre, already manifested during the war years, arose from the crisis of the historical avant-gardes, in particular Cubism and Futurism, considered the latest expression of a process of dissolution of the classical ideal that had begun with Romanticism and it was accentuated with Impressionism and the movements such as Divisionism and Symbolism that had followed it. It was born not as a simple return to the past, but as a resumption of only the canons deemed suitable for the realization of an artistic thought and will. “A solid geometry of objects, a new classicism of forms”, for Carlo Carrà, while De Chirico concluded his programmatic essay on the return of the human figure by exclaiming: “Pictor classicus sum”.

    The model of a rediscovered harmony between tradition and modernity, supported by these artists – including Felice Casorati, Achille Funi, Mario Sironi, Carlo Carrà, Adolfo Wildt and Arturo Martini – will have, also thanks to the critical and organizational spirit of Margherita Sarfatti, the support from the regime that was in search of the definition of a state art, as the long and differentiated debate in the magazines demonstrates. European dictatorial regimes will not fail to use the classicist language of the artists and in many cases their own complicity for propaganda and consensus purposes. But the height of their art cannot be neglected or flattened for ideological reasons.

    The exhibition recalls the main occasions on which artists lent themselves to celebrate the ideology and myths proposed by Fascism, just think of public architecture, mural painting and monumental sculpture. The I (1926) and the II (1929) Mostra del Novecento Italiano will be documented; the great Exhibition of the Fascist Revolution, staged in Rome in 1932-1933 on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the march on Rome; the V Triennale di Milano (which saw the con-sacration of mural painting as a national-popular art aimed at reviving an illustrious tradition); the review of the E42 in Rome. Mural painting and monumental sculpture, which were the most significant and successful expressions of that period with architecture, are investigated inside public buildings, such as the courthouses, post offices, universities. The consideration of the most demanding urban and architectural achievements allows us to understand what has also been achieved in Forlì and in other centers of Romagna.

    The exhibition presents the great themes faced in the twenty years by the artists who have adhered to the directives of the regime, participating in competitions and winning public commissions, and by those who have crossed that climate in search of a new relationship between the needs of contemporaneity and tradition , between art and the public. The presence of paintings, sculptures, frescos cartoons, graphic works, wall posters, furniture, furnishing objects, jewels, clothes, intends to offer a comprehensive vision of the relationship between the arts and the expressions of costume and life comparing different artists and materials. The common goal was, in fact, to redefine every aspect of reality and life, passing from the classical myth to an entirely contemporary mythology.

    La tâche de l’artiste, comme le résume Bontempelli, devient celle «d’inventer des mythes, des fables, des histoires, qui s’éloignent alors de lui au point de perdre tout lien avec sa personne, et ainsi devenir l’héritage commun des hommes et presque des choses. de nature”. À travers les principaux protagonistes (peintres tels que Severini, Casorati, Carrà, De Chirico, Balla, Depero, Oppi, Cagnaccio di San Pietro, Donghi, Dudreville, Doctors, Funi, Sironi, Campigli, Conti, Guidi, Ferrazzi, Prampolini, Sbisà, Soffici , Maccari, Rosai, Guttuso, et des sculpteurs tels que Martini, Andreotti, Biancini, Baroni, Thayaht, Messina, Manzù, Rambelli) mettront en évidence la variété des expériences entre la métaphysique, le réalisme magique et les grandes mythologies du XXe siècle.

    Ce dépassement de la peinture de chevalet pour retrouver le rapport entre la peinture et l’architecture signifiait le grand retour au XVe siècle italien considéré comme une source d’inspiration pour les artistes contemporains. Giotto, Masaccio, Mantegna, Piero della Francesca, pour leur réalisme précis, enveloppés dans une atmosphère d’émerveillement lucide, apparaissent particulièrement proches. Regarder le XVe siècle ou l’Antiquité ne signifiait pas rompre les liens avec l’art contemporain européen, certainement pas avec ces artistes qui, comme Picasso et Derain, avaient déjà suivi le même chemin à partir de la deuxième décennie du XXe siècle, passant de la décomposition et l’abstraction cubiste à la recomposition de la figure et un nouveau classicisme dans lequel l’ancienne et la tradition italienne ont été prises pour modèle.

    Non seulement la peinture, la sculpture ou l’architecture, mais aussi les œuvres graphiques et les affiches sont devenues partie intégrante de l’image de la ville moderne. Le XXe siècle est passé du grand art aux objets de la vie quotidienne, où l’on pouvait respirer la même atmosphère de retour à la mesure classique, même dans la manipulation de matériaux précieux. Les magnifiques meubles et autres objets de décoration conçus par Piacentini, Cambellotti, Pagano, Montalcini, Muzio, Gio Ponti et les bijoux réalisés par Alfredo Ravasco en témoignent. Jamais au XXe siècle les événements de la mode ne s’entremêlaient et ne s’identifiaient à ceux de la culture et de la politique, suscitant, entre le rêve parisien et l’autarcie, la perspective de la grande mode italienne.


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