Posted on 29/09/2010
'The Massacre' - one of the many paintings on display
Powerful works of anti-Fascist imagery are now on display at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art in the exhibition ‘Against Mussolini: Art and Fall of a Dictator’ until 19 December 2010.
The exhibition constitutes a central element of a wider research project by Dr Giuliana Pieri from the Department of Modern Languages at Royal Holloway, University of London, Professor Stephen Gundle from Warwick University and Professor Christopher Duggan from Reading University, entitled ‘Cult of the Duce: Mussolini and the Italians, 1918-2005.’
The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the aim of it has been to investigate the nature, purposes, functioning and impact of the personality cult of Mussolini in the period from 1918 until 1945. The after-effects of the cult in popular memory have also been studied.
Dr Pieri, Senior lecturer in Italian and the Visual Arts at Royal Holloway, says: “This is quite an exceptional body of work and is the first of its kind. The works of art are from private collections but for the first time members of the public can come and view them here in the UK.”
She says the focus of the exhibition is very enlightening as it “really gives you a sense of the turmoil people were going through.” She describes Mussolini as being a charismatic leader and says as the first modern fascist leader in Europe he became almost a template for other dictators.
“He is probably one of the few dictators that has been represented in different styles and you feel there was less censorship than in other regimes. You notice how the art starts with images with a sense of this highly strong masculine body but then later you see how it transforms and the figures are portrayed as frail or obese. Many of these artists had been living with the regime but somehow the relationship breaks – there’s definitely a tipping point and then you get a sense of their personal struggle through their art. Some of the images are quite brutal,” adds Dr Pieri.
For more information about the exhibition visit: http://www.estorickcollection.com/home.php