Baroquemania: a book talk by author Laura Moure Cecchini


April 12, 2023, 6:00 PM

General admission: $15. Members and Students: Free


Join us at CIMA for a book talk with author Laura Moure Cecchini presenting her latest book Baroquemania: Italian visual culture and the construction of national identity, 1898–1945 (Manchester University Press, 2022).

The author will be in conversation with Prof. Karen Raizen, Bard College, and with Giorgio Di Domenico, CIMA Research Fellow.

Laura’s book studies the cultural politics of the Baroque in Italian modernism. This book radically reconceptualises Italian post-unification visual culture by exploring an element that has, until now, been systematically ignored: its fraught entanglement with the Baroque.

Evoking a glorious past – the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance – played a key role in constructing a common Italian identity following the country’s unification in 1861. But the Baroque was considered too extravagant, kitsch, and whimsical to serve the aggressive nation-building impulse that led to Fascism. Baroquemania sets out to redress this narrative. It interrogates a diverse range of media, from paintings, sculptures, and buildings to commercial illustrations, postcards, posters, pageants, photographs, films, and exhibitions. Situating Italy within European and Latin American reimaginings of the Baroque, the book proves how widespread use (and misuse) of the style was integral to articulating Italians’ ambivalent relationships with modernity and tradition.

Unravelling the Baroque’s protean afterlife in the work and writings of Umberto Boccioni, Giorgio de Chirico, Armando Brasini, Adolfo Wildt, and Lucio Fontana, among others, this book reveals the Baroque’s role in pioneering a distinctively Italian approach to modern art, one that was neither anti-modernist nor fully committed to avant-garde values. By examining how the Baroque haunted Italian visual culture, Baroquemania offers a fresh look at an essential aspect of Italy’s development into a modern nation.

Light Refreshments will be served.

Laura Moure Cecchini is Assistant Professor (Ricercatore di tipo B) in the Department of Cultural Heritage at the Università di Padova (Padua, Italy). She was a recipient of the Lauro de Bosis Postdoctoral Fellowship at Harvard University and Associate Professor of Art and Art History at Colgate University. Her research focuses on the transnational legacies of fascist visual and material culture. She is now at work on two projects, one analyzing artistic exchanges between Italy and Argentina in the context of transatlantic fascist diplomacy, and the other on the material ‘debris’ of Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia. Her work has appeared in The Art Bulletin, Selva, Third Text, Modernism/modernity, and Oxford Art Journal. Laura’s research has been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, CIMA- Center for Italian Modern Art, The Wolfsonian-Florida International University, and the Cesare Barbieri Fund at Trinity College, among other institutions.