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Articles by: Roberta Cutillo

  • Art & Culture

    Political Propaganda Under Fascism and Beyond

    The goal of the exhibition “Propaganda. The Art of Political Indoctrination,” on view at NYU’s Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò through April 17, 2020, is to examine and deconstruct how propaganda worked under the totalitarian fascist regime and to get viewers to consider how such mechanisms operate in more democratic times including the present.

    “One of the goals is to think critically about political messages today,” Professor Nicola Lucchi, the show’s curator, explains. 

     

    The works displayed were not selected according to aesthetic criteria, as has been the case with several exhibitions on the subject, but rather with the intention to underline the fascist party’s approach to political indoctrination through five different sections: 

     

    The first one, “Before and After Fascism,” shows examples of political propaganda posters from the eras preceeding and following the fascist regime (1922-1943), clarifying from the start that propaganda practices aren’t excluisive to totalitarian regimes. These works range from a 1902 ad for the Socialist Newspaper “Avanti!” to a 1948 celebration of the Marshall Plan, and even a 1953 anti-communist poster. 

     

    The latter, which features an image of a foot checking off a hammer and sickle on an election ballot along with the inscription “This is how the communists vote - not the Italians,” is actually the only example of negative propaganda (in the sense that it attacks a “competitor” rather than bolster an ideology) in the entire exhibition and it’s interesting to note how it wasn’t produced under fascism (as one might expect) but rather during a period of “tense democratic debates between the Christian Democrats and the Italian Communist Party.”

     

    “It speaks volumes to the incendiary language of today’s political discourse,” comments Professor Lucchi. 

     

    This isn’t to say that the fascist regime’s propaganda methods weren’t themselves as insiduous as they were effective. People were constantly bombarded with pro-fascist messages and Mussolini, who was a journalist by trade, closely monitored not only the promotional material on himself and his party but also all the news and reporting that circulated. All forms of media were subject to strict censorship. 

     

    The second section of the exhibition is titled “Puppeteer or Puppet?” and focuses on the role of the figure of Mussolini as a physical representation of the regime and of the Italian people as a whole. Among the heavily iconographic objects present in this part of the exhibit, one of the most emblematic is perhaps the 1934 “Si” poster by Swiss artist and designer Xanti Schawinsky, which features a huge “Si” superimposed over a giant image of the Duce. The “Si” (“yes”) refers to the alleged result of a plebiscite - an exercise carried out in order to create the impression of democracy - and is complete with made-up numbers representing the results of the vote. To further convey the message that Mussolini not only had the full support of the Italian people but actually embodied them, a vast crowd of people are photomontaged onto his bust, literally becoming his body.  

     

    An additional note of interest on this work is that Schawinsky, who was Jewish and studied at the Bauhaus, had at the time fled Germany and taken refuge in Italy, which he in turn fled when the country adopted racial laws. He then came to New York and became a Professor at none other than NYU. So it’s fitting that his work made its way back through this exhibition.

     

    Another notable object in this section is the famous statue “Continuous Profile” by Renato Bertelli from 1933, a remarkable work, which as Professor Merjian explains, the artist had the foresight to copywright and mass produce in varying sizes and materials, rendering it the icon it is today, which continues to inspire artists, several of whom adapted the profile to resemble that of President Trump among other current political figures. 

     

    The next section, “Politics and Business,” showcases the collaborative efforts between the regime and many Italian companies including Bompiani and Fiat as well as famous designers such as Bruno Munari. On the one hand, businesses paid lip service to the regime to remain in its favor but, at the same time, the figure of Mussolini was so popular that referencing him or fascist mottos constituted a powerful marketing strategy. In a way, they engaged in a mutually beneficial relationship. 

     

    “An entire generation of Italian artists was ruined,” comments Nicola Lucchi, “because almost all of them worked for the regime.”

     

    One of the most immediately stricking aspects of the exhibition is in fact the variety of styles showcased. There doesn’t seem to be one single “fascist” style of propaganda art (or of any art for that matter) as in the case of Nazi Germany, for example. “As long as the message was in line with the message the party wanted to send out, almost anything went,” Prof. Lucchi explains, “the more, the better.”  

     

    There are some recurring motifs such as modernity, technology, dynamism (and lots of airplanes) as well as Classical elements intended to recall the greatness of the Roman Empire, but the overall stylistic ecclecticism of “fascist art” conveys a false sense that the regime may have been less uptight and controlling than other totalitarian governments. 

     

    An inacurate conception which - as Professor Ruth Ben Ghiat, one of the foremost experts on fascism, explains - most people have of Italian fascism, which is often understood as “softer” than nazism. This misconception is tied to a number of factors, ranging from how Italy has historically (falsely) been perceived as militarily inept to how it was treated much differently than Germany during the international trials that followed WWII.

     

    In truth, as the fourth section “The Takeover of Everyday Life” illustrates, fascist ideals insinuated themselves into every aspect of daily life, from commerce to art, culture, sports, architecture, and of course education, under the false pretense of liberlism. Through the numerous initiatives it carried out, the regime managed to draw in celebrities, artists and intellectuals, reinforcing the notion that it welcomed creativity both at home and overseas.  

     

    As the final section “Reaching Across Borders” underlines, fascist Italy - like most if not all totalitarian states, which are imperialist in nature - did not only use propaganda to target its own citizens but also made efforts to promote its achievements and ideology abroad. “These Propaganda efforts,” the section panel reads, “often targeted the United States, both to foster good diplomatic relations and to gain support for the fascist regime among the emigrant communities of the Italian diaspora.” 

     

    These included various initiatives such as flying the Italian Aviation Squad over New York, hiring Gio Ponti to design a large scale fresco for the Main Lobby of Palazzo d’Italia at Rockefeller Center, which was never realized, as was the case for the 1942 Rome World Fair, which was supposed to attract international visitors to the Italian Capital’s brand new EUR neighborhood

     

    Beyond clearing some common misconceptions about the fascist regime by breaking down the elaborate propaganda mechanisms - reminiscent of contemporary marketing strategies - it adopted, this exhibition is particularly relevant in this historical time and place because it can help us to understand that, as the curator notes, “today’s methods of propaganda are still the same, only the medium or platform has changed.”

     

    And one can’t help but wonder what an exhibition about propaganda during our current historical period would look like. 

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    "Propaganda. The Art of Political Indocrtination" is on view at Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò through April 17, 2020.

    For more information on the exhibition as well as on the ongoing series of connected events see here. 

  • Art & Culture

    Inside the Life and Archives of Vico Magistretti, Pioneer of Italian Design

    On the occasion of the centenary of the birth of acclaimed italian designer and architect Vico Magistretti, the Magistretti Foundation organized a traveling exhibition designed for the network of the Italian Cultural Institutes. On February 27th, New York’s Italian Cultural Institute inaugurated its own edition of the show curated by Matteo Milani and Francesca Cigola. 

     

    The exhibition is composed of iconic industrial design objects, original sketches, drawings, architectural projects and images of the houses and buildings Vico Magistretti designed throughout his highly prolific sixty-year career.

     

    “What’s most remarkable about Magistretti is the richness and variety of his production,” remarks the exhibition’s co-curator Francesca Cigola, who notes that, although Magistretti is mostly known for his popular design objects - such as the “Atollo” table lamp (1968) and the “Selene” chair (1969) - the online archive, which the Magistretti Foundation just made available online (also in occasion of his centenary), reveals the true vastness and ecclecticism of his oeuvre in the fields of both design and architecture. 

     

    Also included in the exhibition are a series of videos on loop that help bring viewers into Magistretti’s life and practice through images of his studio, of Milan, the city where he was born, raised and by which he was heavely influenced and in turn marked, all narrated by different figures who knew him including star architect Stefano Boeri and even Magistretti himself. 

     

    Through these videos and through the exhibited panels, taken from the collection of the Fondazione Vico Magistretti, viewers are taken inside the designer’s studio, (now the seat of the foundation) an important space which he inherited from his father in 1946 and where he always worked up until his death in 2006. He ran it like a “bottega,” an artisan’s workshop, and loved it deeply.

     

    The various panels from the foundation are displayed alongside quotes from interviews he gave during his lifetime. “He never wrote a book or a memoir, but he gave many many interviews,” comments Scientific Director Rosanna Pavoni, “in which you can find the concepts that were the most important in his work such as simplicity, concept design, redesign, and diligence.”

     

    “Being an architect is a wonderful job,” one of these quotes reads, “It is a tiring job. A job that requires effort. A job in which you have to try to pay very close attention to culture as well. Because culture, in the end, is the root of beautiful things. And, definitely, there is that beautiful line by the English poet John Keats, who wrote ‘a thing of beauty is a joy forever’ which is the key to our work.”

     

    Additionally, each panel features a QR code linked to the Fondazione’s extensive online archive, complete with images and information on all their holdings. 

     

    As co-curator Matteo Milani explains, Magistretti saw his creation process as an ongoing dialog. His projects read like instructions addressed to those who realized the objects and buildings he designed but they also speak to anyone viewing them today. The exhibition design clearly illustrates Vico Magistretti’s process and reflects the holistic and interactive approach to his practice.

     

    As the Consul General of Italy Francesco Genuardi notes in his introductury speach, the exhibit also features a copy of the catalog for the groundbreaking 1972 MoMA show titled “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape,” which “started the Italian design fever” and in which Magistretti’s work is heavily represented. 

     

    In fact, although his work is intrinsically linked to Italy and to the city of Milan, Magistretti was instrumental in defining the concept of Italian design, with which New York and the entire world fell in love. 

  • Art & Culture

    Stradella’s Esther Comes to New York

    Written in 1673 by the mysterious and turbulent Italian composer Alessandro Stradella (libretto by Leilo Orsini), “Ester Liberatrice del Popolo Ebreo” (Esther, Liberator of the Jewish People) is an oratorio inspired by the Biblical Book of Esther. 

    According to Jessica Gould, the Artistic Director of Salon Sanctuary and interpreter of the heroine, the book “is part history and part novel. But there is no heavenly figure swooping out of the sky to assure the oppressed population. Events simply follow each other and document the triumph of female intelligence over male rage and pomposity, while no mention of God is ever made.”

    “It is a story in which banquets, sexual revelry, court intrigue, gossip, plots and strategy wind their way to the triumph of a clever Jewish queen over a murderous court minister.”

    A unique episode, which has even led recent scholars to consider the possibility that it may have been written by a woman. 

    It’s important, especially in the current hostile political climate here in the US, hostile towards women and minorities, to remember and represent this work about a Jewish feminist heroine, which was realized in a similarly oppressive context.  

    Stradella, “a violent, volatile, and tragically short-lived genius,” composed his adaptation of the tale in the context of Counter-Reformation Rome, in the midst of the Church’s reactionary movement against the rise of Protestantism, which manifested in the oppression of all minority groups, including Jews, perceived as potential threats to the Catholic Church’s power. 

    This climate also deeply influenced the art produced at the time. And this work, whose “exquisite but mysterious compositional choices” transport listeners into a world not unlike the one depicted by Caravaggio, is no exception to that influence.

    “I’ve always referred to Stradella as the Caravaggio of music,” explains the Director of Stradella Consort Esteban Velardi. “Because of how they were both revolutionaries in their own field, who produced whimsical and inventive masterpieces and also because of their similar tragic fates.” In fact, Stradella, like Caravaggio, was murdered at a young age under dubious circumstances.

    His work was innovative, experimental. “He left a mark that has not yet been duly recognized,” continues Velardi, who named his ensemble after the composer as part of his mission to promote the work of this great artist. 

    A goal also shared by this initiative, which presents a new interpretation of his Esther, whose incomplete manuscripts were carefully integrated to recreate what the original piece, composed by Stradella at the height of his career, would have sounded like.

    “It’s always an honor in the current political climate for us working in culture to expand our position as diplomats, exploring new possibilities for international collaboration and bringing neglected music to contemporary audiences and to as many Americans as possible,” Gould comments.

    In addition to the performance, a pre-concert talk will take place at the Center for Jewish History (15 West 16 Street) on March 1st at 7:30.

    To purchase tickets to the performance see here.

  • Art & Culture

    Rome to Host the Biggest Raphael Show in History

    If 2019 was all about celebrating the 500th anniversary of Leonardo Da Vinci’s death, 2020 will be dedicated to Raphael’s. Museums and institutions across Italy and beyond are holding initiatives in honor of the celebrated Renaissance artist from Urbino, who passed away on April 6, 1520 in Rome at the age of 37.

     

    Among these initiatives is the biggest monographic exhibition ever held on the artist, which will take place in Rome’s Scuderie del Quirinale from March 6th through June 2nd. The show will feature over 200 works including paintings and sketches as well as comparison works.

     

    "It is the largest exhibit ever organized on Raphael", commented Mario De Simoni, the President and CEO of the Scuderie del Quirinale, who collaborated with Florence's Uffizi Gallery to bring this ambitious project to life.

     

    The Florentine museum will be sending over several masterworks never before displayed in Rome. And over 50 other art institutions contributed to the show, including Rome’s Galleria Borghese, the National Gallery of Ancient Art, Bologna’s Pinacoteca, the Royal Museum of Capodimonte, Naples’ Archaeological Museum, and foreign museums too such as the Vatican Museums, the Louvre, London’s National Gallery, the British Museum, the Prado, Vienna’s Albertina, and the National Gallery of Art in DC.

     

    It took three years of studies and restorations carried out by a team of art historians and curators including Marzia Faietti and Matteo Lanfranconi to realize this massive exhibition, which will include the Madonna del Granduca and Woman with a Veil from the Uffizi, the Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione and Self-Portrait with Friend from the Louvre, and the Madonna of the Rose from the Prado among other priceless masterpieces. Works which have never been gathered in the same place before.

    "Never since Raphael's death have so many works returned to Rome," noted the director of the Uffizi Eike Schmidt.

     

    To further mark the collaborative effort between the two Italian institutions, the Uffizi is offering a 33% discount on tickets to those who have visited the show at the Scuderie and vice versa.

     

    So far, the show has raised a great deal of anticipation: despite fear surrounding the coronavirus outbreak in the country, over 70,000 tickets have already been booked or sold online.

  • Art & Culture

    Keeping Culture Alive Through Coronavirus

    The spread of the Coronavirus has led Italian authorities to order the closure of many museums, theatres and other cultural institutions until March 1st and even to cancel or post-pone major international events such as Milan’s MIA photo fair and Salone Del Mobile. 

    This is certainly a great economic setback for the country’s cultural sector. However, some institutions have decided not to suspend their activities. Though they cannot physically take in visitors, they can virtually welcome them into their space as Chinese museums have begun doing through their socia media channels and by offering virtual tours. While Art Basel launched the digital platform Online Viewing Rooms to replace the Hong Kong edition of the fair, cancelled due to the virus. 

    In a similar vein, Bologna’s Museum of Modern Art (MAMBo) will be streaming Ragnar Kjartansson’s performance “Bonjour” on its Youtube channel from February 27th to March 1st. And by sending an email to [email protected] with the subject line “Bonjour” during streaming times, anyone can obtain a discounted ticket to the ongoing AGAINandAGAINandAGAINand exhibition once the museum opens back up as well as a free MAMBo pin.

    “It’s an experiment, which stimulates us as a museum to overcome physical barriers,” commented the museum’s artistic director Lorenzo Balbi, who added that the initiative was made possible by the artist’s enthusiasm and availability, by the collaboration of theatre company LAMINARIE, and by the efforts of the staff of Istituzione Bologna Musei and of the municipality. 

    Similarly, Venice’s architecture biennial will live stream the presentation of this year’s program held by Biennale President Paolo Baratta and the curator of the 17th Architecture Biennial Hashim Sarkis on Thursday February 27th at 11:30am (Italian time) on www.labiennale.org

    Other institutions including Venice’s Archaeological Museum and Turin’s Castello di Rivoli have also adhered to the initiative by streaming tours, press conferences and other events. 

  • Art & Culture

    Pompeii’s House of Lovers Reopens After 40 Years

    Named after the Latin inscription “Lovers lead, like bees, a life as sweet as honey” found at the entrance, Pompeii’s House of Lovers can once again be visited, forty years after the Irpina earthquake rendered it unsafe, forcing authorities to shut it down. 

     

    The house or “domus” dates back to the 1st century BCE while the decorations and frescoes depicting scenes from daily life and idyllic landscapes were made after 62 BCE. It was discovered in 1933 and is believed to have been a brothel during ancient times. 

     

    Along with two other domus, the House of the Ship Europa and the House of the Orchard, it has now been restored in the context of the Great Pompeii Project, a $140 million campaign mostly funded by the European Union, with the goal of restoring the ancient city. 

     

    "It is a story of rebirth and redemption, a model for all of Europe in the management of EU funds," comments the Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini. 

     

    Over the course of the years, the site of Pompeii faced continuous problems including vandalism, corruption, climate change, flood damage, mismanagement, underfunding, and institutional neglect and as of 2013 only a fraction of the city’s buildings were visitable. The situation was so dire that Unesco even considered placing it on its World Heritage in Danger list. That’s why the Great Pompeii Project was launched, to bring the Ancient Roman city back to its glory.

     

    Launched in 2012, the project has lead to numerous finds, including a fresco depicting the myth of Leda and the Swan, a thermopolium, (the ancient roman equivalent of a “fast food” counter) a preserved horse still in its harness and the skeleton of a man who was crushed by a massive rock while trying to escape the infamous eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE. 

     

    A great deal of progress has been made but there is still work to be done, most importantly in terms of rendering the site more accessible to visitors and beneficial to the surrounding area. As Minister Franceschini put it, “this is a huge opportunity for growth in the area and we need to invest.”

  • Photo by Marco Anelli © 2017
    Art & Culture

    Olnick Spanu, Pioneers of Italian Contemporary Art

    Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu founded Magazzino – which means warehouse in Italian – in 2017 in Cold Spring, New York, where a computer factory once stood.

    Surrounded by nature, the beautiful, airy space showcases works by contemporary Italian artists from the mid-1960s onwards.

    Currently on view is an impressive, state-of-the-art selection of Arte Povera, a crucial Italian contemporary art movement that remained until recently virtually unknown in the United States. 

    “Our collection does not only focus on Arte Povera,” Spanu insists on specifying right from the start, “it is focused on post-war Italian art from the early 1960s to contemporary artists today.”

    “Arte Povera is an important segment of that,” he concedes. And it’s what is currently on view at Magazzino, though it is not what he and Nancy originally intended when they began collecting. “We always knew that we wanted to divulge Italian art abroad,” he explains, “but we came across Arte Povera almost accidentally.”

    His and Nancy’s first encounter with the movement came in the 90s during a visit to Castello di Rivoli, a contemporary art museum outside of Turin, following the suggestion by their friend and gallery owner Sauro Bocchi. “We wanted to learn about contemporary Italian artists and he suggested we start from there.” 

    And that’s when their love for Arte Povera was born. They were immediately struck by this incredibly avant-garde movement of which they previously knew very little and began adding it to their collection, which at the time included an exceptional selection of Murano glassworks as well as a body of Italian ceramics (by Guido Gambone, Marcello Fantoni, Gio Ponti, Fausto Melotti, etc.) among other things. 

    “I don’t like the term collector,” Spanu explains, “right from the start, the idea was to share art with others.” They started talking about it with their friends and eventually founded the Olnick Spanu Art Program.

    The program began in 2003, when their friend and artist Giorgio Vigna visited them in their country property in Garrison, New York. Vigna and his wife were “trapped” there by a power outage and during his permanence the artist noticed a water cistern covered in cement, which he thought would make a wonderful pedestal. He then drew up a project based on the design of a ring he had previously made for Nancy. They loved it and commissioned him to create it. 

    The work, entitled La Radura, was then built in Italy, shipped to the US and they all installed it together on its pedestal.  

    This experience inspired them to create a program and have one artist come each year to produce site-specific works around the property. They saw it as a way to support Italian artists, give them a space to create and an opportunity to work in the United States. 

     “We wanted to support artists we thought were great but we could only manage to host one each year,” Giorgio says, “so we put a lot of effort into choosing the artist, by visiting galleries, fairs, studios across Italy.”

    After Giorgio Vigna came Massimo Bartolini, Mario Airò, Domenico Bianchi, Remo Salvadori, Stefano Arienti, Bruna Esposito, Marco Bagnoli, Francesco Arena, and Paolo Canevari. And for each one, the entire process, from the idea to the realization and installation of the work is beautifully illustrated in sleek and handy catalogs.

    Meanwhile, all their collections were growing. The Murano glass one for example, which they began to exhibit across the world in shows designed by famed designer and Nancy and Giorgio’s good friend, Massimo Vignelli. “Massimo was central in teaching us how to manage our collection, not just physically but also mentally,” Spanu notes. “That’s what started it all.”

    Eventually, they realized that they needed more space, a place to store them, a “magazzino.” They initially wanted to expand their existing property but when that revealed impossible they decided to buy a nearby lot, a former computer factory, and worked with architect Alberto Campo Baeza to develop the plan for Magazzino, which was then designed by Spanish architect Miguel Quismondo, who has been published in la Biennale di Venezia, Architectural Record, A+U, Casabella, and Domus among other publications.

    “Our initial intention was to exhibit our collection, not to make an Arte Povera museum.”

    Once again, the entire process was documented, this time by photographer Marco Anelli who took countless beautiful shots over the course of 3 years, capturing the evolution of the space, the different stages of construction but also showing the people who helped make this project a reality. He created sticking portraits of everyone involved from builders and gardeners to engineers and architects. “As a sort of tribute to the men who worked tirelessly even in the most strenuous circumstances, under the scorching summer sun and in the brutal winter snow.

    Some of these photos were featured in an Arte Povera exhibit curated by Paola Mura and Vittorio Calabrese held this past summer at the Civic Museum of Cagliari in Sardinia. “We didn’t just exhibit the works in our collection but thanks to the photos of Marco Anelli also the container of our collection, Magazzino itself.”

    Magazzino’s inaugural exhibit in 2017 included many works that had belonged to the collection of Margherita Stein, the founder of the historic Galleria Christian Stein and one of the pioneers of the Arte Povera movement. “We decided to dedicate it to this little-known figure of Italian contemporary art, who has always fascinated both Nancy and me.”

    After the show’s incredible success, they realized the resonance of Arte Povera and the importance of showing Arte Povera in the US. Through Magazzino’s fellowship program, they found that important research on the subject was being conducted by young scholars both in Italy and in the United States.  “There was a lot interest in this movement - even before we arrived -  there maybe just wasn’t the right stage for it yet.” 

    And soon after the opening of Magazzino, a couple of important Arte Povera shows took place in New York. One of them was curated by Ingvild Goetz at Hauser and Wirth Gallery and another by Germano Celant at Levy Gorvy. Since then, there have been many more across the United States. In May, the Dia Foundation in Beacon will open a show dedicated to one of the movement’s key figures, Mario Merz.

    In just a few years, Magazzino has done an incredible job of promoting Arte Povera in the US. And, although Giorgio and Nancy’s main goal has always been to divulge the work of today’s Italian artists, this movement was so important and formative that it is essential to be familiar with it in order to contextualize and understand what comes after. That’s why a rotating selection of their Arte Povera collection will always remain on view alongside a program of varying exhibitions.

     

    “The young artists we support and follow certainly have ties with Arte Povera - Francesco Arena for example doesn’t conceal that he is inspired by artists such as Boetti, Anselmo -  so it’s important that we keep exhibiting it.”

    Also important is producing documentation, something else that Magazzino excels at. This way the work of these artists continues to exist and spread beyond museum walls and into classrooms, universities, galleries, homes. Beyond publishing English-language catalogs for all their exhibits and projects, they are also beginning to translate key texts into English, starting with Giorgio Verzotti’s publication on Mario Merz.

    Furthermore, since terminating the Olnick Spanu art program in 2015, they’ve been carrying out a variety of other initiatives, including a collaboration with New York University’s Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò: each year they invite an Italian artist to take up an artistic residence in Magazzino, which culminates in an exhibition held entirely at Casa Italiana except for one work, which gets placed outside Magazzino. The first exhibition was on the work of Ornaghi & Prestinari, the second on Alessandro Piangiamore. Last year, it featured the works of Renato Leotta and this year will be the turn of Namsal Siedlecki, an artist of Polish and Italian descent, who studied in Italy and whose works will be on view starting May.  

    Magazzino also hosts a Scholar-in-Residence. This year's is Dr. Tenley Bick, an art historian specialized in post-war and contemporary Italian art among other things and Assistant Professor of Global Contemporary Art at Florida State University, as well as the first American to hold this position. During her residency, beyond producing research focused on postcoloniality, interventionist practices, and the legacy of countercultural aesthetics in contemporary Italian art, Bick will also contribute to the museum’s educational and public programming by leading special exhibition and museum tours, organizing and participating in the institution’s annual lecture series, and curating a film series dedicated to Italian experimental cinema with Magazzino Director Vittorio Calabrese. 

    Theyn also collaborate with local entities such as the Dorsky Museum at SUNY New Paltz, where last year's Magazzino Scholar-in-Residence Francesco Guzzetti organized an exhibit titled "Paper Media: Boetti, Calzolari, Kounellis" from the research conducted on Magazzino's own collection. It was the first Arte Povera exhibit of exclusively works on paper ever realized in the US.

    Additionally, they work with the Italian Consulate and the Cultural Institute on initiatives such as “Young Italians,” an exhibition inspired by a 1968 show by the same name curated by Alan Solomon to promote the work of talented young Italian artists who were not known in the US at the time, including Kounellis, Pistoletto, Castellani, all of whom are represented in the Olnick Spanu collection.

    And they don’t exclusively support Italian artists, but also American ones with ties to Italy, such as New York-based Melissa McGill, whom they helped realize an ambitious public art project titled “Red Regatta” in Venice, which featured 52 red sailboats engaging in choreographed regattas across the laguna.

    Such projects show the numerous points of contact between Italian and American art. As will an upcoming exhibition, which will open on June 13th and show the parallels between Boetti and Fontana and the renowned American artist Mel Bochner and more generally the impact that contemporary Italian art had and continues to have on the global art scene.

    All these activities carried out by Giorgio, Nancy, and the devoted staff of Magazzino lead by Director Vittorio Calabrese aim to fulfill the mission to advance scholarship and public appreciation of postwar and contemporary Italian art in the United States, advocate for Italian artists by celebrating the range of their creative practice, from Arte Povera to the present day and exploring the impact and enduring resonance of Italian art on a global level.

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  • Art & Culture

    A Monument to Romulus Emerges in the Roman Forum

    About a year ago, an excavation campaign was launched inside the Roman Forum, the world-renowned archaeological complex located in the center of the Italian Capital, by the Colosseum.

     

    The goal of this excavation was to find a monumental sanctuary dedicated to the mythical figure of Romulus, whose presence inside the forum – near the Lapis Niger and the Comizio - was hypothesized in the studies of renowned 20th century archaeologist Giacomo Boni.  

     

    “An underground room containing a tufa sarcophagus about 1,40 centimeters long associated with a circular element, probably an altar, emerged from the ground. It should date back to the fourth century BCE,” reads a statement by the Coliseum Archaeological Park.

     

    The fact that the new finding is located in close proximity to the Lapis Niger (“black stone”), an ancient shrine featuring one of the earliest Latin inscriptions ever found, further supports the idea that it could indeed be a monument to the founder and first king of Rome, perhaps even his tomb, according to some.

     

    However, as the director of the archaeological park Alfonsina Russo noted, calling it Romulus’ tomb might be a little too simplistic and hasty: it was actually more likely built as an honorary shrine dedicated to the mythical figure. A conference will soon take place in order to decide how to present the new discovery to the millions of tourists who visit the site as well as to the reset of the world.

     

    It’s a delicate issue and certainly one of the challenges that comes with of living in a time of constant advancement and active discovery. But it’s also proof that even the most ancient monuments can continue to surprise us and evolve along with our understanding of them.

  • Daily News

    Italy Will be Exempt From US Import Tariff Increase

    The revised list of the products subject to new import taxes released by the Office of the United States Trade Representative features no Italian products.

    The United States finally decided not to raise tariffs by 25% on a series of mostly food sector-related products coming from several European countries including Italy, as it had threatened to do last October.

    The tariff raise was intended as retaliation against European countries who were found by the World Trade Organization (WTO) to have been giving illicit subsidies to the Airbus aircraft manufacturing consortium.

    The announcement was met with great shock and strong oppositions as it would brutally impact countless businesses and consumers on both sides of the Atlantic and US trade representatives have since then been in talks with their foreign counterparts in the attempt to resolve the situation.

    Although the US maintains the right to update the list at any time, for the moment it appears that the biggest measure will be the increase of tariffs from 10% to 15% on Airbus vehicles imported from Europe starting March 18. Meanwhile, the World Trade Organization is set to pronounce a similar sentence regarding illicit subsidies that the US gave to American aircraft company Boeing in April.

    Italian officials including the Minister of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies Teresa Bellanova and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Luigi Di Maio expressed their satisfaction in the outcome and feel that a great threat has been dodged.

    Food industry consortia, including Consorzio Parmigiano Reggiano and Consorzio Vino Chianti expressed their relief and enthusiasm even though exports of Italian products to the US had already began to drop significantly following the October announcement. The possibility of the US raising import tariffs lingers and all industry actors remain vigilant and attentive to diplomatic relations with the US.

  • Facts & Stories

    Olive Oil Rejuvenates Brain Cells, Study Reveals

    Not only is it good for the body, a team of researchers from the Italian National Research Council (Cnr) published a study in the Faseb Journal revealing that the main staple of the Mediterranean diet is also good for the brain.

     

    The team, led by Felice Tirone in collaboration with Laura Micheli, Giorgio D'Andrea e Manuela Ceccarelli proved that hydroxytyrosol, a component naturally found in olive oil counters the effect of aging of neurons.

     

    Throughout our lives, we humans (as well as other mammals), constantly produce new neurons in a region of our brain called the hippocampus. This process is known as neurogenesis and is essential in forming our episodic memory. As we age, the number of stem cells in our bodies decreases, slowing down neurogenesis and leading to a drastic reduction of episodic memory. However, hydroxytyrosol stimulates neurogenesis in adults, countering this effect.

     

    “The oral consumption of hydroxytyrosol for one month keeps the new neurons produced during that period alive both in adults and even more so in older people, in which it also stimulates the proliferation of stem cells from which the neurons are generated,” Tirone explains. “Additionally, hydroxytyrosol, thanks to its anti-oxidant proprieties, can also ‘cleanse’ nerve cells because it also reduces markers of aging such as the accumulation of detritus in neural cells.”

     

    The newly produced neurons penetrate neural circuits, effectively resulting in increased hippocampus function.

     

    Beyond confirming the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, these results could also have a positive environmental impact since the study revealed that high levels of hydroxytyrosol are also found in the waste that comes from the production of olive oil. This could lead to the development of new, less wasteful olive oil manufacturing methods in order to obtain higher quantities of the valuable substance.

     

    Researchers Carla Caruso of Tuscia University’s Department of Environmental and Biological Sciences and a team from the Department of Agriculture and Forest Sciences composed of Roberta Bernini, Luca Santi and Mariangela Clemente also participated in the study by synthesizing hydroxytyrosol with a new patented procedure.

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