Questioning the Canon. New Perspectives on Postwar Italian Art

Resarch Seminar

  • Online event via Zoom
  • Data: 02.03.2021
  • Ora: 11:00 - 13:00
  • Relatore: Giovanna Zapperi and Stefano Collicelli Cagol
  • Contatto:
Questioning the Canon. New Perspectives on Postwar Italian Art
This Research Seminar focuses on dominant narratives of postwar Italian art. In asking how influential accounts have been consolidated in both academic research and exhibition practice, the speakers will concomitantly present theoretical and practical tools which enable us to question the structural premises of canon formation.

Speakers: Giovanna Zapperi and Stefano Collicelli Cagol, moderated by Maria Bremer

The narrative of postwar art in Italy is still largely dominated by a model of supersession, which translates a hegemonic and linear construction that has actively contributed in erasing women and other subaltern subjects. In her contribution, Giovanna Zapperi proposes a re-vision of this narrative by looking at the counter-models proposed by art critics Carla Lonzi and Anne Marie Sauzeau Boetti. While contesting the verticality of male genealogies, they have fostered a horizontal model that left aside the admiration for the great artist, in order to focus the relations, experiences, and life forms that emerged in the art of their time.

Giovanna Zapperi is Professor for contemporary art history at Université de Tours and currently Rudolf Wittkower Fellow at the Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History. Her latest book examines the writings of art critic and radical Italian feminist Carla Lonzi: Carla Lonzi. Un’arte della vita [Carla Lonzi: an Art of Life] Rome, 2017 (French translation: Dijon 2019). In 2019-2020, together with Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez, she has curated the exhibition Defiant Muses: Delphine Seyrig and Feminist Video Collectives in France, 1970s-1980s (LaM, Lille and Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid).

Over the last decades, institutions have been pivotal in consolidating general understandings of postwar Italian art. Yet, most exhibitions and their catalogues have hardly questioned canonical approaches based on a western-centred, international modernist narrative in tune with the art market. By remaining true to their histories and missions, institutions can nonetheless provide alternative perspectives to propose unexpected insights. As Stefano Collicelli Cagol argues in his contribution, a case in point is the Art Quadriennale, organised since 1931 at Palazzo delle Esposizioni. The 2020 edition, titled FUORI, is an intergenerational and multidisciplinary exhibition inspired by feminist, queer and de-colonial studies, that confronts the many ghosts and gaps tied to the knot of the postwar Italian art canon.

Stefano Collicelli Cagol is an exhibition-maker and researcher based in Rome. After co-curating the Art Quadriennale 2020 FUORI, he currently works as Curator at Large at BY ART MATTERS, a centre for contemporary arts opening in Fall 2021 in Hangzhou, China. Collicelli Cagol holds a PhD in Exhibition histories and Curatorial practice from the Royal College of Art, London. In 2018-19, he was invited as a Docent on 'Exhibition and Display' at Politecnico di Torino.

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Scientific organization: Maria Bremer

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