Donatello among Blackshirts: History and Modernity in the Visual Culture of Fascist Italy

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This ambitious collection treating the Italian Fascists' appropriation of the past for political purposes focuses on the role of the visual in the aim of fusing the past and the modern world in Mussolini's Italy. With contributions by art historians and classicists, literary and intellectual historians, Donatello among the Blackshirts demonstrates that the Fascist regime appropriated not only Italy's ancient Roman past but also the medieval, Renaissance, and even baroque eras, as well as its own recent history, in constructing a new myth of the nation. Every aspect of visual culture—from monumental architecture, sculpture, painting, and gardens to exhibitions, spectacles, films, medals, household items, and stamps—helped to link the past with modernity. As a result, Italy's artistic traditions became familiar to all social classes throughout the peninsula. While this richly illustrated book concerns Fascist Italy, at the same time it also shows how Italy's premodern artistic traditions have been passed down to the present through the filter of the Fascist era.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This highly stimulating, coherent, and original volume of essays illuminates superbly the many and complex ways in which the Fascist regime appropriated different aspects of the past, from ancient Rome to the Risorgimento, in its attempts to manufacture and promote an integrated and intrinsically modern national identity for Italy."—Christopher Duggan, author of Fascism and the Mafia and A Concise History of Italy

"The interdisciplinary essays of Donatello among the Blackshirts provide readers with a rich, informative, and highly accessible overview of the manipulation of history, culture, and the arts in Fascist Italy."—Lucia Re, University of California, Los Angeles

"A refreshing view of Fascist Italy from the perspective of scholars of antiquity and the Renaissance, Donatello among the Blackshirts illuminates long-neglected components of Fascist culture and reminds us of the lasting effects of Fascist-era interventions in and manipulations of Italy's rich cultural patrimony."—Ruth Ben-Ghiat, author of Fascist Modernities: Italy, 1922–1945

"This book deals with the exercise of power through display and the intentional manipulation by Fascist Italy of cultural forms and practices in order to project a dominant visual culture. Providing specific examples and noting the complexity of the process, the authors deal with evidence and wrestle with the complexity of actual events, people, and contingencies."—Dennis Doordan, University of Notre Dame

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801442889
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/2004
  • Series: 11/23/2005
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 7.12 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Ch. 1 Forging a visible fascist nation : strategies for fusing past and present 13
Ch. 2 To make history present 33
Ch. 3 Augustus, Mussolini, and the parallel imagery of empire 53
Ch. 4 "Il Primo Pilota" : Mussolini, fascist aeronautical symbolism, and imperial Rome 67
Ch. 5 Fascism Triumphans : on the architectural translation of Rome 83
Ch. 6 Inventing the Palazzo del Corte in Ferrara 97
Ch. 7 Towers and tourists : the cinematic city of San Gimignano 113
Ch. 8 Shaping the fascist "new man" : Donatello's St. George and Mussolini's appropriated renaissance of the Italian nation 133
Ch. 9 Mussolini, mothers, and Maiolica 145
Ch. 10 Politicizing a national garden tradition : the Italianness of the Italian garden 157
Ch. 11 Leonardo's smile 173
Ch. 12 Celebrating the nation's poets : Petrarch, Leopardi, and the appropriation of cultural symbols in fascist Italy 187
Ch. 13 The return of the repressed : tradition as myth in futurist fascism 203
Ch. 14 Flash memories (Sironi on exhibit) : appendix : Mario Sironi, "The manifesto of muralism" 223
Epilogue : Mussolini's body as Fotografia Infamante 241
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