Untying “The Knot”: The State of Postwar Italian Art History Today


February 09 - 10, 2015

The Center for Italian Modern Art is pleased to host Untying ‘The Knot’: The State of Postwar Italian Art History Today, a two-day conference organized by Sharon Hecker and Marin R. Sullivan. Held in the days leading up to the 103rd meeting of the College Art Association, and co-sponsored by the Italian Art Society, this symposium seeks to evaluate the current state of the field and highlight alternative methodologies for future inquiry. It will bring together leading Italian, American, Canadian, and British scholars publishing in this expanding field.

2015 marks the thirty-year anniversary of curator Germano Celant’s The Knot, the 1985 landmark exhibition held at PS1 in New York, which introduced contemporary Italian art to American audiences. Yet despite the interest it generated in its time, few scholars in the United States considered postwar Italian art as a subject for study in the decades since. Today, thanks to recent exhibitions and publications, scholars on both sides of the Atlantic are increasingly turning their attention to Italian art created after World War II. With the passage of half a century, European and American scholars alike are historicizing and scrutinizing the complex dichotomies that defined Italy during the period: from its dialogue with artistic and craft traditions of the past within the context of rapid industrialization, to the so-called “economic miracle” and the effects of American consumerism, to the mechanics of Italy’s desire to establish a particular kind of Italian Modernism in art, film, and design that would also become internationally influential.







DAY 1: Monday, February 9
9.30am-10am    Registration
10am-10:30am  Opening Remarks: Heather Ewing, Laura Mattioli
                          Introduction: Sharon Hecker, Marin R. Sullivan

Session 1: 10:30am-12:00pm
Untying ‘the Knot’: methodological issues of postwar Italian art today

Laura Petican (Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi)
‘Yes, but are you Italian?’: Considering the Legacy of italianità in Postwar and Contemporary Italian Art

Denis Viva (Università degli Studi di Udine)
Learning from artists: visual resources and Postwar Italian Art History

Gabriele Guercio (Independent)
Gino de Dominicis, Lady of Warka

Session 1 Q&A

Session 2: 12pm -1pm
Precedents and Continuities

Sharon Hecker (Independent)
Medardo Rosso’s Postwar Italian Legacy

Laura Moure Cecchini (Duke University)
A House No Longer Divided: Patronage, Pluralism, and Creative Freedom in Italian Pre- and Postwar Art

Session 2 Q&A

Lunch Break at CIMA: 1pm-2.30pm, with Guided Tours of Medardo Rosso by CIMA Fellows

Session 3: 2:30pm-4pm
International Movement(s): Abstraction, Realism, and Pop

Davide Colombo (University of Milan)
Piero Dorazio: Non-objective Art vs. Abstract Expressionism?

Christopher Bennett (Independent)
Gleaning Italian Pop: Renato Mambor’s Thread

Fabio Belloni (Independent)
American Hyperrealism: an Italian Debate, 1972-74

Session 3 Q&A

Break:   4pm-4:30pm

Session 4:   4:30pm-6pm
Representing Reality

Christian Caliandro (Symbola Foundation, Rome)
Rediscovering the Real: Art, Literature & Cinema during the Postwar Years

Nicoletta Leonardi (University of California, Florence Study Center)
From page to street and back: photography, visual poetry and the Italian city in the work of Franco Vaccari

Romy Golan (Graduate Center, City University New York)
Switchbacks in Italian Art of the 1960s

Session 4 Q&A

Day 2: Tuesday, February 10
9:30-9:45am   Registration
9:45-10am     Opening Remarks

Session 5:  10am-11:30am
Institutions, Exhibitions, and the Public Sphere

Shantel Blakely (Independent)
Integration by Design: The Synthesis of the Arts and the Origins of Italian Industrial Design, 1949-1955

Silvia Bottinelli (School of the Fine Arts Museum, Boston/Tufts University)
Gianni Pettena and Ugo La Pietra: Crossing Boundaries (1968-78)

Martina Tanga (Boston University)
Institutional Reinvention: The 1974 and 1976 Venice Biennale

Session 5 Q&A

Session 6: 11:30am-12.30pm
Reassessing Arte Povera

Giorgio Zanchetti (Università degli Studi di Milano)
Summer Solstice A.D. MCMLXIII. Luciano Fabro’s Early Works

Elizabeth Mangini (California College of the Arts)
Gilberto Zorio’s Material Instability

Robert Lumley (University College, London)
Lightness: Artistic Strategies in Italy in the 1960s

Session 6 Q&A

Lunch Break at CIMA: 1pm-2:30pm, with Guided Tours by CIMA Fellows

Session 7:   2:30pm-4:30pm
Critical and Artistic Resistance

Lara Pucci (University of Nottingham)
Translating Picasso: Guttuso’s Guernica

Leda Cempellin (South Dakota State University)
The Gruppo N: Looking Closely into the Failure of a Collaborative Model

Jacopo Galimberti (Independent)
Danilo Montaldi: Activist, Collector, Gallery-owner and Art Critic

Teresa Kittler (University College, London)
Reimagining the Family Album: Carla Lonzi’s Autoritratto (1969)

Session 7 Q&A

Break:  4:30pm-5pm

Concluding Roundtable and Q&A:  5pm-6pm

Nicholas Cullinan (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Adrian Duran (University of Nebraska at Omaha)
Claire Gilman (The Drawing Center, New York)
Paolo Scrivano (Boston University)