Book / A Difficult Heritage: The Afterlives of Fascist-Era Art and Architecture

by Carmen Belmonte

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Abstract

Many of the urban projects realized during the Fascist regime have remained part of the Italian landscape. Together with monuments and works of art, they are the surviving traces of Fascist imagery in contemporary Italy. Protected by preservation laws as part of the national cultural patrimony, these remnants have become the focus of a politically charged public debate.
In this book, scholars and curators from different disciplines critically examine the afterlives of Fascist-era artifacts. Spanning from the iconoclasm that followed the fall of the regime on July 25, 1943 to the present day, and moving from mural paintings and mosaics to buildings, decorative arts, monuments, and sculpture, the essays explore Italy’s transition from Fascism to the Republic and the dynamics of postwar de-Fascisization, revealing ruptures and continuities throughout the twentieth century. Applying the notion of “difficult heritage” to the Italian context, the volume addresses issues of restoration, display, and critical preservation of artifacts in public and institutional spaces, drawing comparisons with practices in other countries including Germany and the United States.

Carmen Belmonte is Assistant Professor of Contemporary Art History at Roma Tre University. She coordinates the Research Unit Decolonizing Italian Visual and Material Culture at the Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History. Her monograph Arte e Colonialismo in Italia. Oggetti, immagini, migrazioni (1882-1906) was published in 2021.

Contributions by Luca Acquarelli, Joshua Arthurs, Franco Baldasso, Carmen Belmonte, Liza Candidi, Pippo Ciorra, Mia Fuller, Alessandro Gallicchio, Davide Grasso, Hannah Malone, Lucy Maulsby, Giuliana Pieri, Dell Upton, Rosalia Vittorini, Adachiara Zevi.

Contents

Fascist Heritage in Italy: From Iconoclasm to Critical Preservation
Carmen Belmonte

A Difficult Heritage?

Difficult How? Italy’s Inertia Memoriae of Fascism
Mia Fuller

Fascism and the Arts: A Difficult Legacy?
Giuliana Pieri

Questioning the Idea of Difficult Heritage as Applied to the Architecture of Fascist Italy
Hannah Malone

Nationalism’s Difficult Monuments
Dell Upton

Erased, Engraved, Emerging.
Nazi Heritage, Architecture, and Public Memory
Liza Candidi and Davide Grasso

Legacies of Fascism

Ruins of an Ancient Civilization?
Contemplating the Debris Left by Fascism during the Transition to Democracy
Franco Baldasso

Monuments: Fascist, Modern, Invisible
Adachiara Zevi

Architecture and Fascism:
The Life and Destiny of Works for the Regime
Rosalia Vittorini

“Mussolini Did Good Things Too”: The Memory Politics of Fascist Modernity
Joshua Arthurs

Architecture and Empire: Architecture in Late Fascist Italy and its Postwar Legacy
Lucy Maulsby

Fascist Heritage and Contemporary Art

Negotiating Memories
Pippo Ciorra

A Town Square Midway Between Past and Present: Piazza della Vittoria in Brescia
Luca Acquarelli

The Former Casa d’Italia of Marseille (1935–1936) and the Murals of Angelo Della Torre in Dialogue with Contemporary Art
Alessandro Gallicchio

Index

Acknowledgments