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Reassemblage: Italy's 1930s Illustrated Magazines as Visual Archives

Authors: Pelizzari, Maria Antonella
Keywords: photography;photo archives;photomontage;art and politics;Italy
Issue Date: 24-Feb-2011
Abstract: The paper presents a new research project that investigates Italian photomontage through the pages of illustrated magazines published in the Thirties. These magazines--released in Milan by Mondadori, Rizzoli, Bompiani--have become a critical source to learn about an artistic practice that was pervasive at this time. Unfortunately, the original mock-ups have been destroyed, and the photographers' archives have been rarely kept together, thus these illustrated magazines offer the only context to see these works and understand the inner workings between photography, architecture, fashion, publicity, and the graphic arts. This presentation shows the early results of a larger research that aims to study the politics involved in Italian modern photography and montage through its magazine culture, taking into consideration the issues debated for the earlier Weimar culture and media. Photomontage has often been considered a revolutionary art form geared towards social change but, in the case of Italy, it served a more reactionary political propaganda bound to Mussolini's Fascism (1922-1943) and the growing industrial capitalism. A close analysis of these works suggests a complex negotiation between the artists and the politics of this time. Undermined as reactionary and propaganda art altogether, Italian photomontage reveals a rich creative exchange between Italy and European avant-garde art (Surrealism, Dada, Bauhaus), presenting an alternative language, at times even a rupture, from the art of the regime conceived as a 'return to order.' This project uncovers new works and redefines some important authors like Munari, Veronesi, Nizzoli, discussing the reasons why they should be reclaimed from dusty and often inaccessible off-site storages.
Description: Conference paper presented March 25-26, 2011.
Rights: Copyright Maria Antonella Pelizzari, 2011.
Appears in Collections:Photo Archives and the Photographic Memory of Art History, part III

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