Palazzo Strozzi ” Anni Trenta. Arti in Italia oltre il Fascimo “

The exhibition in Florence at Palazzo StrozziAnni Trenta.  Arti in Italia oltre il Fascimo “ (The Thirties. Art in Italy beyond Fascism)  up to January, 27th 2013 really deserves a visit.  On show the masterpieces of over forty leading artists,  including Mario Sironi, Giorgio de Chirico, Alberto Savinio,  Achille Funi,  Carlo Carrà,  Corrado Cagli, Arturo Nathan, Achille Lega, Ottone Rosai,  Ardengo Soffici, Giorgio Morandi,  Ram,  Thayaht,  Antonio Donghi, Marino Marini,  Renato Guttuso,  Ivanhoe Gambini,  Carlo Levi, Filippo de Pisis, Scipione,  Antonio Maraini and Lucio Fontana. The  Italian 30s, characterized by the dictatorship of Mussolini, expressed an extremely active artistic background,  featuring classicism, futurism, expressionism, abstractionism,  which can’t  be,  grossly and  tout-court,  oversimplified as  lifeless and provincial art  inside the controversial issue of art and fascism.

Two remarkable previous exhibitions focused on the same subject, the one held by Carlo Ragghianti in 1967 in Florence and the other one  at Palazzo Reale in Milan in 1982 organized  by Renato Barilli, Luciano Caramel, Enrico Crispolti and Vittorio Fagone.

Both of them paved the way for following studies,  more able to overcome  the  negative assessments and  the enduring prejudices on the art which  flowered on the sinister rise of fascism.

The perspective of the present  exhibition at Palazzo Strozzi,  organized by Antonello Negri, Silvia Bignami Paolo Rusconi, Giorgio Zanchetti e Susanna Ragionieri is probably getting  a wider  historical  detachment from the political framework.

A keener  sensibility  is now able  to clearly establish a shrewd assessment of the works’ artistic value, telling them apart. On one side the politically functional paintings which  heavily suggest embarrassing  flattery subjects such as the ones exhibited at the 1939 Cremona Prize or  at the Biennale di Venezia or the Quadriennale of Rome. On the other side the ” more  liberal”  works  employing  free languages, unrestrained,   at least, until 1938,  when the racial laws implied the condemnation of the vanguard art.

In fact, initially unchecked by a strict  political power  some young  artists  could exhibit in the Exhibition of the Fascist National Union of Fine Arts, held in Florence in 1933. Among them Guttuso,  Birolli,  Fontana,  Sassu who gradually would open  up  to new  European trends,  together with other artists, the so called “ Sei di Torino” .

Under  the guide of Felice Casorati  they breathed a new air, thus overcoming the gloomy inner  horizons in the approach of the broader issues of  the Fauves,  Modigliani,  Manet,  Picasso,  Matisse,  Braque or  the German Expressionism.  A brave new world,  labelled by  the pure German art as  degenerated.

Thence the symbolically meaningful painting of nazi art,  shown for the first time in Italy ” The Four Elements”  by Adolf Ziegler, the artistic advisor of Hitler, featuring four naked  female figures.

The exhibition,  divided into several sections,  focuses on  artists according to various geographical areas.

Milan  with masterpieces of Sironi, Martin,  Carrà,  Funi,  Adolf Wildt.

Florence with Soffici e Rosai. Rome with Donghi.

Turin with Casorati and the “Six from Turin” and last Trieste with Nathan, Bolaffi and Sbisà.

The section ” I Giovani  e gli Irrealisti ” numbering  Sassu,  Birolli,  Fontana,  Gentilini,  Cagli,  Guttuso,  Prampolini,  Licini and Radice witnesses  the variety of free languages.

“ Gli artisti in viaggio ” (les Italiens de Paris) together with Vinicio Paladini,  much influenced by Berlin cultural background, belie the cultural isolation.

A last remark on the Milan Triennale of 1933  which set forth  the modernization of  the country,  featuring an essential esthetics where design represented a turning point  in Italian lifestyle thanks to its  ideas still relevant to modern and dynamic  man.

As an ending note, our  comforting doubt about the harsh considerations  of the Guardian journalist Jonathan Jones who in his blog marks  the  Florentine exhibition  as “ a bleak journey into the aesthetic lifelessness of a totalitarian society”

If you are interested in  spending some days in Florence,  have a look at the accommodations downtown offered by Tuscany Holiday Rent

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