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Using the “lens” of the 1930s

"Donna al caffè", Antonio Donghi (1931). Pic credits: Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, Archivio Fotografico.
“The Thirties. The arts in Italy beyond fascism.” 7 reasons why you should not miss this exhibition (Florence, September 2012 – January 2013). 1 – Because it is a big, rich and complete art exhibition that tells the story of a crucial era in Italian history, characterized by a vibrant and innovative arts scene and an extremely vigorous artistic battle, influenced by Fascism and involving every style: classicism, Futurism, expressionism, abstract art, monumental art, and decorative painting. 2 - Because it is an exhibition that explores the 1930s through the masterpieces of over forty leading artists of the period, 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: 99 paintings, 17 sculptures, 20 objects of design. 3 – Because it shows us the contrast between modernity and tradition, and how the increasingly radical international context led to a dramatic debate. In Germany two conflicting exhibitions were inaugurated in Munich in 1937: one on Entartete Kunst (“Degenerate Art”) with avant-garde work confiscated from German museums and banned by the Nazi Regime; and the other, entitled the Great Exhibition of German Art, with traditional painting and sculpture celebrating the German people and the power of the Third Reich. While in Italy this dichotomy was reflected in the clash that took place around 1940 between the “reactionary” Cremona Award, devised by Fascist hierarch Roberto Farinacci to extol the virtues of Fascism with illustrative works of art, and the Bergamo Award, for which some of the entries were outright modernist provocations. 4 – Because it shows us the consequences of the arrival on the scene of design and mass communication—posters, radio, the cinema and the first illustrated magazine—and the spread of the mechanical reproduction of images and objects. 5 – Because one of the rooms is transformed into a real Radio Studio! At 9 o’clock in the evening on 6 October 1924, a concert inaugurated Italy’s first radio broadcast, starting an era that would have such an important impact on the country’s life. Fascism soon realized the potential of communications as an extraordinarily effective tool of propaganda: radios where put in the Case del Fascio, in schools and in bars, and loudspeakers were set up in public squares to broadcast the Duce’s speeches. Enter the Radio Studio to hear some of the original audio tracks, such as the war declaration. And you can even do your own radio interview! 6 – Because the show has another “special” room: the Reading Room. Take a break to relax and leaf through the pages of works from the period, including comics, first introduced to Italy in the 1930s. 7 – Because there is a wide programme of educational activities: see Italy through the eyes of those who grew up in the 1930s using the special labels along the rooms, or you can borrow the “suitcase” full of activities for all ages or sketch your way through the exhibition using the “drawing kit”.. Info September 2012 – January 27th, 2013 Palazzo Strozzi, Florence Opening times: daily 9am-8pm, Thursdays 9am-11pm Tickets 6 € website