Metaphysics in Everyday Life

28 November 2018 / 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

A conversation between Paul Stirton and Antonio David Fiore on interwar European decorative arts’ response to themes of Metaphysical painting.

This event aims to explore the way recurrent themes, iconography, and atmospheres of Metaphysical painting entered the repertoire of European decorators from the 1920s on. Antonio David Fiore will discuss works by Gio Ponti, Tomaso Buzzi, Piero Fornasetti, and Giulio Rosso. Focusing on their appropriation of aspects of de Chirico, Carrà, Sironi, and Morandi’s art, Antonio will show how Metaphysical painting—a complex approach to art, rooted in philosophy and literature—was turned into a source of suggestive decorative motives. Once deprived of their most unsettling and disquieting atmospheres, these themes became part of the taste of the time, not only in Italy but also in other countries. Paul Stirton will respond by showing examples from central Europe, in which parallel approaches can be detected. Stimulating comparisons between different contexts will emerge, as well as a different perspective from which to look at the Metaphysical Masterpieces exhibition on view in CIMA’s galleries.

Free, registration required.


Please note: CIMA will be live-streaming the program on our Facebook page.

Program schedule:

6pm: Viewing of Metaphysical Masterpieces

6:15pm: Program begins, followed by audience Q&A

8pm: Evening concludes


Paul Stirton is a professor of modern design history at the Bard Graduate Center in New York, and editor of “West 86th: A Journal of Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture,” published by the University of Chicago Press. Educated at the universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, and at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, his current research and publications are mostly concentrated in two areas: architecture and design in Britain and in Central Europe (primarily Hungary) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He has a particular interest in graphic design, interiors, and print culture, although recent work has been concerned with public monuments and cultural transfer or emigration. His approach to this body of material is largely concerned with the relationship between contemporary theoretical and critical writings and the actual objects themselves. This dialectical relationship between texts and things lies behind the selected writings of the English architect-designer E.W. Godwin, which he edited with Juliet Kinchin (2005), and various articles and essays on Hungarian designers, such as Károly Kós, Lajos Kozma, and Laszlo Peri. Among his latest publications are “Frederick Antal and Laszlo Peri: Art, Scholarship and Social Purpose,” Visual Culture in Britain. (Summer 2012), and “The Vienna School in Hungary.” Journal of Art Historiography No. 8. June 2013.

Antonio David Fiore passed his Viva in November 2017, completing a fully funded PhD in History of Art at the Open University (UK). His research focused on the output of the Italian decorator Giulio Rosso (1895-1976), reconstructing Rosso’s career while considering the significance of his practice in the context of the decorative arts of the interwar period. Between September 2017 and January 2018, he worked as Associate Lecturer at the School of Art and Design of the University of Bath Spa, where he taught “Art and Design since 1945.” As an art historian researcher and cataloguer, Antonio has worked for various galleries and museums in Rome, including the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Museo della Centrale Montemartini, and Musei Vaticani – Modern Art Collection. He has contributed articles, studies, and catalogue entries to a number of different journals, conference proceedings, exhibition catalogues, and books.  He is currently a fall fellow at CIMA, where he will stay until January 2019.







29 November 2018 / 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

“A throw of the dice will never abolish chance,” wrote the poet Stéphane Mallarmé.

For CIMA’s last public program in November, Jen Mazza will lead a unique evening of drawing and conversation, addressing the artworks on view by Morandi, Sironi, and Carrà featured in the Metaphysical Masterpieces exhibition. Discussion will touch upon strategies of metaphor and image, chance, juxtaposition, and collage.  Join us and see for yourself how the metaphysical can reimagine reality.

All skill levels welcome!

Limited to 30 participants.
$15; FREE for CIMA Members.


Event Schedule:

6pm – Registration and exhibition viewing

6:10pm – Introduction by Jen Mazza

6:30-7:30pm – Drawing in CIMA’s galleries

7:30pm – Discussion

8pm – Evening concludes

About the artist:

Jen Mazza (born 1972, Washington D.C.) is a New York based artist who works and teaches at the Parsons School of Design and the Pratt Institute. Her collaborative teaching integrates reading, artmaking, and research across a range of disciplines, often focusing on close visual analysis and problem-solving.
Her work engages with pre-existing images to develop, as Walter Benjamin writes in The Arcades Project, “the art of citing without quotation marks.” By allowing things to speak for themselves through the medium of paint, Mazza attempts to gently undermine habitual structures of seeing and understanding the action of making, drawing out what is overlooked in our relationship to images and objects.
Mazza received her B.A. in Visual Art and Spanish Literature from Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Virginia (1994), and an M.F.A. in Visual Art from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University (2001). Her work has been reviewed in the New York Times, Art in America, Art News, Art 21 and Hyperallergic. She is represented by Tibor de Nagy in New York and a survey of her recent work, entitled “Disobedience is not careless”, is currently on view at the James Gallery of the Center for the Humanities at the Graduate Center.

*Please note that guests are allowed to bring their own supplies, but only sketching materials are permitted. No water media, ink, or solvents are allowed in the galleries.

Refreshments have been generously donated by:



Art supplies generously donated by:

Members Only: Andy Warhol’s ‘Shadows’ with Jessica Morgan and Neil Printz

04 December 2018 / 10:00 am - 11:00 am

CIMA Members are invited to join us for a private morning visit of Dia’s exhibition dedicated to Andy Warhol: Shadows at a specially built-out gallery space at Calvin Klein, Inc.’s headquarters at 205 West 39th Street.

Andy Warhol’s Shadows (1978–79), first presented by Dia in the city in 1979, is an environmentally scaled painting in multiple parts that encompass the viewers. It embodies Warhol’s increasing interest in abstraction in the late 1970s and synthesizes key elements of his practice, including film, painting, photography, and screen-printing.

Jessica Morgan (Nathalie de Gunzburg Director of Dia Art Foundation) and Neil Printz (Editor of The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné) will lead this exclusive tour for CIMA members.


Please note: CIMA Members will receive a private invitation link to RSVP for this event. Limited to 20 members only!



Members receive free admission to CIMA, access outside of regular public hours, a copy of the annual catalogue, and invitations to exclusive events and receptions.

Photo: Bill Jacobson Studio, New York

Metaphysical Years Lecture Series, Year 2: David Forgacs on 1917

11 December 2018 / 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Metaphysical Years Lecture Series

Year 2: David Forgacs on 1917

This lecture series offers an overview of the birth and development of pittura metafisica (metaphysical art) against the backdrop of World War I as well as in the context of the post-war years in Italy. The presentations explore significant literary trends of the time along with socio-cultural events of the short yet crucially important period covered by CIMA’s 2018-19 exhibition, Metaphysical Masterpieces 1916-1920: Morandi, Sironi, and Carrà.

1917 was a critical year in Italy’s history. Two years after intervention in the First World War, the continuing carnage at the front, including summary executions of Italian soldiers accused of acts of cowardice ordered by their commanding officers, had severely eroded morale among the troops. At the same time, opposition to the war was on the rise among civilians. In August Pope Benedict XV described the war as a “pointless massacre” (inutile strage). Later that month antiwar protests in Turin, the city with Italy’s most militant working class, were put down by armed force. In October the Italian army virtually disbanded after a defeat at Caporetto. In November, Russia’s Bolshevik revolution radicalized a part of the Italian left and terrified the Italian bourgeoisie. This lecture will reconstruct something of the subjective experience of that remarkable year through quotations from soldiers’ and civilians’ letters and memoirs, trench newspapers, and contemporary political writings, including Antonio Gramsci’s celebration of the revolution in Russia. It will consider whether 1917 should be seen as the real start of the civil war that would escalate into near revolution in 1919-20 and provoke the violent reaction of the fascist squads. It will look, lastly, at some of the literary, cinematic, and artistic production of that year and consider why Italy, despite widespread antiwar feeling, was the only one of the belligerent nations that did not produce any significant antiwar art before the armistice.

David Forgacs holds the endowed Guido and Mariuccia Zerilli-Marimò Chair of Contemporary Italian Studies at New York University, where he is also Chair of the Department of Italian Studies. He was educated at Oxford, Pavia, and the Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa. Before coming to NYU he taught at the universities of Sussex, Cambridge (Fellow of Gonville and Caius College), Royal Holloway University of London (Reader in Film Studies), and University College London (holder of Panizzi Chair of Italian, established in 1828). He has also held Visiting Professorships at the University of Rome La Sapienza and LUISS, Rome. In 2006-9 he was Research Professor in Modern Studies at the British School at Rome. In 2005 he was awarded the Ordine della Stella Italiana, Grande Ufficiale della Repubblica Italiana, for services to the promotion of Italian culture abroad. His most recent book is Italy’s Margins: Social Exclusion and Nation Formation since 1861 (Cambridge University Press, 2014; Italian edition Margini d’Italia. L’esclusione sociale dall’Unità a oggi, Laterza, 2015). His next book, Messaggi di sangue. Violenza, stato e comunicazione in Italia dal Risorgimento a oggi, will be published by Laterza in 2019.

10$; FREE for CIMA members and students. Registration required.


Please note: CIMA will be live-streaming the program on our Facebook page.

Program schedule:

6pm – registration and viewing of Metaphysical Masterpieces

6:15pm – program begins, followed by audience Q&A

8pm – Evening concludes


Members Holiday Toast

18 December 2018 / 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

CIMA Members are invited to enjoy the Metaphysical Masterpieces exhibition and toast to the holidays with prosecco and panettone! Each member is welcome to bring a friend.

* RSVP is required. Members will receive a private invitation link.

For further inquiries please contact

Metaphysical Years Lecture Series, Year 3: Selena Daly on 1918

22 January 2019 / 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Metaphysical Years Lecture Series

Year 3: Selena Daly on 1918

CIMA presents a landmark five-part lecture series held in conjunction with the 2018–19 exhibition Metaphysical Masterpieces 1916-1920: Morandi, Sironi, and Carrà. Join leading scholars as they illuminate, year-by-year, the cultural and socio-political contexts in which Metaphysical painting was born and developed, broadening our understanding of this provocative yet short-lived style.

At the beginning of 1918, Italy was still reeling from the Army’s devastating defeat at Caporetto just a few months previously, which had forced a retreat of 150 kilometers and had created 400,000 refugees fleeing from Austrian occupation. One of the Army’s responses was to establish a Propaganda Service which, among other initiatives, produced humorous ‘giornali di trincea’ (trench newspapers) for soldiers to help raise morale. The pages of these newspapers featured the illustrations of many of Italy’s most important artistic figures, including Mario Sironi, Carlo Carrà, Giorgio De Chirico, Ardengo Soffici and Massimo Bontempelli, working in styles that starkly contrasted with the metaphysical painting that some of them were producing simultaneously.

With so many of its members, including the Futurist leader Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, engaged in military activity at the front, the Italian avant-garde was facing a moment of crisis in 1918. In February, Marinetti took the radical step of publishing the ‘Manifesto of the Futurist Political Party’, which formally divided the movement into artistic and political strands, although the party itself would not be established until after the war’s end. Through the party newspaper, Roma futurista, launched in September, soldiers and officers who were not artistically inclined were brought into the Futurist fold.

The final Italian offensive at Vittorio Veneto in October brought about the surrender of the Austro-Hungarian forces and fighting concluded on November 4th, a full week before the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front.

The Futurist movement in November 1918 was radically different from that which had existed at the start of the European conflict in August 1914. Some key members such as Umberto Boccioni had died and others, such as Carrà, were pursuing new metaphysical directions. Futurism stood as a nascent political party – a move intimated by Marinetti since 1913 but never launched. In March 1919, the Futurist Political Party would join forces with Benito Mussolini’s Fasci di Combattimento, laying the foundations for a new era of Italian society and culture.

Selena Daly is is a Lecturer (~Assistant Professor) in Modern European History at Royal Holloway, University of London. She previously worked as a Lecturer in Italian Studies at University College Dublin and was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2014-15. Her research interests focus primarily on Italy during the Great War. Her monograph, Italian Futurism and the First World War, was published by University of Toronto Press in 2016 and was one of five non-fiction titles shortlisted for The Bridge Book Award in 2017. She is a member of the Executive Committees of the Society for Italian Studies and the Association for the Study of Modern Italy and is an Associate Editor of the journal, First World War Studies.

Free for students and CIMA members.


Please note: CIMA will be live-streaming the program on our Facebook page.

Program schedule:

6pm – registration and viewing of Metaphysical Masterpieces

6:15pm – program begins, followed by audience Q&A

8pm – Evening concludes