Introduction

Italy in the 1930s, when Fascism held sway, was the scene of an extremely vigorous artistic battle in which every style from Classicism to Futurism, from Expressionism to abstract art and from monumental art to decorative painting was involved. The situation was further complicated by the arrival of design and mass communication—posters, radio and the cinema.
The exhibition invites you to explore the decade without prejudice, and bases its reconstruction on as objective a set of historical facts and figures as possible. Using the “lens” of the 1930s to understand events and developments, we have given pride of place to works of art which were seen and debated in the press, at international, national and trade union exhibitions and in leading private galleries, which all had a real impact on the visual culture and artistic debate of the day.
The retrospective opens with Italy’s main artistic centres where the experimental work of “young artists” reveals the emergence of new styles and a new artistic vocabulary alongside the work of established “masters”. The rest of the exhibition explores issues including artists' journeys and the impact of Paris and Berlin; monumental and public art; and the anti-modernist polemic sparked by reactionary traditionalism. The exhibition also explores 1930s design, where scenarios for the future are shaped by the theory and practice of the mass production of images and objects. The exhibition ends with Florence, shortly before the country enters the war in Europe alongside Germany.
The Curators