Motion in Stillness: Photography, Modernity, and the Avant-Garde in Italy, 1860–1913

Nicole Coffineau, M.A.

This project considers photography in Italy between the Risorgimento and the first World War. Projects related to building identity and picturing society for a modern Italy involved practices of archiving and collecting emergent in the nineteenth century that shaped modes of seeing and generating visual knowledge in both aesthetic and scientific spheres. Specifically, albums and collections documenting Italy's artistic patrimony are of interest for this research, in addition to the criminal-anthropological archive of Cesare Lombroso, which occupies a major chapter. Photography, as a medium that was used and understood in various ways in this period, engendered multiple theorizations and re-theorizations of vision, visibility, aesthetics, understanding, and consciousness during the modernization and industrialization of post-Risorgimento society. This dissertation considers historical connections amongst critical and theoretical receptions of artistic, scientific, and social photography in the latter half of the nineteenth century, arguing that debates about the medium and its entanglements with modern perception and consciousness were crucial to the emergence of the artistic avant-garde, looking specifically at the Futurist photographers Arturo and Anton Giulio Bragaglia and their separation from the Futurist movement in 1913.

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