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.


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.