Italian Design and the Invention of Made in Italy: a talk by Prof. Elena Dellapiana


March 23, 2023, 6:00 PM

General admission: $15. Members and Students: Free


Professor Elena Dellapiana will examine the concept of Made in Italy in its various meanings and iterations: from an indication of provenance for products to a definition of an entire lifestyle, from a signifier of prestige to a label at the center of legal battles, from an indicator of innovation in industrial technologies and design to an anchor of tradition and craftsmanship.

“Made in Italy”, indeed,  is  above all, the realization of an intangible yet powerful aura shared all over the world and synonymous with elegance and the magical alchemy between innovation and tradition. 

The discourse concerns how the formula that has communicated and amplified Italian products since the universal exhibitions of the 19th century has been arrived at focusing, also thanks to regulatory and propagandistic actions, on categories that enrich the simple meaning of “made in Italy”: Mediterraneanism, craftsmanship, artisticity, ingredients that, in turn, define the elusive category of design. And design, in its transition between artistic craftsmanship and industrial product, has prompted reactions, mostly favorable if not adoring, in the international markets and public, which have helped to shape a veritable category of the spirit in a continuous game of cross-references between cues from Italian designers and companies and replicas matured in countries with a high level of debate on design culture. 

Elena Dellapiana, Architect, PhD, is Full Professor of Architecture and Design History in the Department of Architecture & Design at the Politecnico di Torino (Italy). She is a scholar of architecture, town and design history of the nineteenth and twentieth century. She is one of the authors of Storia dell’architettura italiana: L’Ottocento, ed. A. Restucci (Milan: Electa, 2005); Made in Italy. Rethinking a Century of Italian Design eds. K. Fallan and G. Lees Maffey (Bloomsbury: 2013). Among her publications: Il design della ceramica in Italia 1850-2000 (Milan: Electa, 2010), Il design degli architetti italiani 1920-2000, with F. Bulegato (Milan: Electa, 2014), Una storia dell’architettura contemporanea, with G. Montanari (Torino: Utet, 2015-2020). She recently edited Museographie. Musei in Europa negli anni tra le due guerre, with M.B. Failla and F. Varallo (Sagep: Genova 2020) and Bruno Zevi. History, Criticism and Architecture after WWI, with M. Cassani Simonetti (Franco Angeli: Milano 2021; her latest book is Il Design e l’invenzione del Made in Italy, (Einaudi: Torino 2022). She is the director (with Giampiero Bosoni and Jeffrey Schnapp) of the magazine “AIS/Design Journal”, focused on design History and organ of the Italian Design Historians Association (AIS/Design) 


‘Cronaca di un Amore’: a film screening at CIMA


March 09, 2023, 6:30 PM

General admission: $15. Members and Students: Free


In conjunction with CIMA’s current exhibition From Depero to Rotella: Italian commercial posters between advertising and art, we are hosting an in-person screening of director Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1950 debut full-length film, Cronaca di un Amore (Story of a love affair), a drama starring Lucia Bosè and Massimo Girotti.

Angela Dalle Vacche,  Professor Emerita at Georgia Tech, Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, will introduce the screening.

Michelangelo Antonioni’s brilliant debut movie, a sleazy, seedy neorealist noir set in postwar Milan, Story of a Love Affair’ is a riveting, taut drama.  —Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

Synopsis: A wealthy industrialist, Enrico, hires a private detective to investigate his wife Paula, ironically bringing her back into contact with her former lover, Guido. Together they resurrect a lost passion. Meanwhile, detective Carloni discovers a disturbing connection between Paola, Guido, and the death of Guido’s fiancée Giovanna.

In Italian with English subtitles (98min)

Angela Dalle Vacche, Professor Emerita at Georgia Tech, Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, is a specialist in the intersection of aesthetic theory and film history. She was born in Venice, Italy and came to the United States in 1978. She has graduate degrees in American Studies (1980) and Film Studies (1985) from Mount Holyoke College and the University of Iowa. She has been the recipient of a Fulbright Travel Grant; a Mellon Fellowship; a Rockefeller Bellagio Grant; a Leverhulme Distinguished Senior Professorship at the University of London, Birkbeck College; and a Dora Maar Fellowship in Menerbes, France. In 2016, she lectured on Cinema and the Museum at the Institute for Marketing and Technology in Lucca, Italy. Dalle Vacche’s retrospective Italian Silent Divas: Passion and Defiance for the 2000 New York Film Festival was voted as “Best Event of the Year,” by Art Forum. Dalle Vacche has given guest-lectures in Europe, Asia, and Australia. Among her publications: The Body in the Mirror: Shapes of History in Italian Cinema (Princeton Legacy Library, 1992); Cinema and Painting: How Art Is Used in Film (University of Texas Press, 1996); Diva: Defiance and Passion in Early Italian Cinema (University of Texas Press, 2008). André Bazin’s Film Theory: Art, Science, Religion (Oxford University Press, 2020). Among her published anthologies: The Visual Turn (Rutgers University Press, 2002); Color, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2006); Film, Art, New Media: Museum Without Walls? (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).


‘I Grandi Magazzini’: a film screening at CIMA


February 28, 2023, 6:00 PM

General admission: $15. Members and Students: Free


In conjunction with CIMA’s current exhibition From Depero to Rotella: Italian commercial posters between advertising and art, we are hosting an in-person screening of Italian director Mario Camerini’s 1939 film I Grandi Magazzini.

Victoria de Grazia, Moore Collegiate Professor Emerita of History at Columbia University, will introduce the screening.

A light sentimental comedy, typical of the Italian cinema of the 1930s and 1940s, the plot revolves around a lavish department store, depicting an environment in which consumption starts to pervade the Italian lifestyle.

Synopsis (via Wikipedia): Some thefts take place in the Department Stores. The personnel manager, who has his eyes on a salesgirl, accuses her and blackmails her. However, the girl, engaged to a chauffeur, is innocent. Who is behind the thefts?

In Italian with English subtitles. (1hr 25min).

Victoria de Grazia, Moore Collegiate Professor Emerita of History at Columbia University, was educated at Smith College, University of Florence, and Columbia University where she received her Ph.D. in history with distinction in 1976. Before joining the Columbia faculty in 1994, she taught at Rutgers University. Her research interests lie in contemporary history, with longstanding commitments to studying western Europe and Italy from a gendered perspective and to developing a global perspective on commercial revolutions. Her publications include: Irresistible Empire: America’s Advance Through Twentieth Century Europe (2005); The Sex of Things: Gender and Consumption in Historical Perspective (ed., 1996); How Fascism Ruled Women: Italy, 1922-1945 (1992); The Culture of Consent: Mass Organization of Leisure in Fascist Italy (1981). She is currently writing a book about intimacy and power in Fascist Italy.


‘From Depero to Rotella’ Opening Lecture by curator Nicola Lucchi


February 22, 2023, 6:00 PM


General admission: $15. Members and Students: Free


Join curator Nicola Lucchi who will illustrate the concept of the exhibition From Depero to Rotella: Italian commercial posters between advertising and art, and analyze some of the key works exhibited in the show.

Nicola will demonstrate how, while poster art has often been described as derivative in character, from Futurism onwards Italian posters acquired a visual and communicative force that elevated the medium to a form of artistic expression in its own right, pushing the boundaries of lithographic techniques, photomontage, and typography. Focusing on the period of the interwar years and the early post-World War II era in Italy, the curator will illustrate how commercial posters’ peculiar ambition to deliver alluring forms and contents to the masses, rather than to an elite circle, also make them an object of socioeconomic and philosophical interest.

The event will be held in person at CIMA. Limited in-person seating available due to COVID-19 safety protocols.

Light refreshments will be served

About the curator: Nicola Lucchi is the Executive Director of the Center for Italian Modern Art; he oversees the institution’s fellowship program, the calendar of cultural events, and serves as Managing Editor for the Center’s online scholarly journal. Prior to joining CIMA, Nicola worked as Visiting Assistant Professor of Italian at Dickinson College and Lecturer of Italian at CUNY’s Queens College. He has published scholarly articles, book chapters and catalog essays on Futurism, on the relationship between poetry and the visual arts, and on Bruno Munari, in the scholarly volume Bruno Munari. The Lightness of Art. He has also curated an exhibition on Futurist manifestos and ephemera at Queens College’s Rosenthal Library, and on propaganda art in Italy at NYU’s Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò. He received a PhD in Italian Studies from NYU in 2016.


Members Opening Reception: ‘From Depero to Rotella’


February 16, 2023, 6:00 PM

CIMA Members at any level are invited to join us for the opening reception of our new exhibition, From Depero to Rotella: Italian commercial posters between advertising and art. This will be an opportunity to view the exhibition before it opens to the public and to meet curator Nicola Lucchi.

Light refreshments will be served.


Please RSVP to


When the Past was Present: an early representation of the deportation of the Jews of Rome


February 01, 2023, 05:30 PM - 07:30 PM

General Admission Ticket: $5; Members & Students: Free


Ruth Ben Ghiat (New York University), Alexander Stille (Columbia University), Raffaele Bedarida (Cooper Union), and Natalia Indrimi (Centro Primo Levi NY) will present a rare 1948 film and propose some hypotheses on its history and production.

In conjunction with the activities organized by the Italian Consulate for the International Holocaust Remembrance Day (Giorno della Memoria), this distinguished group of scholars will discuss a little-known 1948 short film, one of the earliest public recollections of the deportation of the Jews of Rome, the exile, and the birth of the State of Israel. A particular set of circumstances makes the film intriguingly enigmatic. It was directed by Romolo Marcellini, a star of colonial cinema who, after the war, found his way into the film industry promoted by the American Office of Strategic Services and aimed at portraying the rebirth of a nation. The script is by Luigi Barzini Jr., scion of a prominent family that loomed large in the Italian press since the Belle Epoque. Barzini Jr. graduated from Columbia University at a time when the institution’s leadership flirted with the Regime. He went on to be the correspondent of Corriere della Sera in Fascist Italy. His father, Luigi Barzini Sr., was a senator and remained on Mussolini’s side during the Italian Social Republic becoming director of Italy’s leading press agency, Agenzia Stefani. After the war, Luigi Barzini Jr., with clearance from the Allied authorities, founded the press agency Libera Stampa and continued his career as a screenwriter and one of the editors of the prestigious media group La Settimana Incom. 

The context that originated this film is unknown. Undoubtedly someone guided the director and the writer through the recent memories of Roman Jews. Someone who knew well not only the story and the wounds, but the streets, the places, and the religious rituals. Someone who helped mediate between the small Italian Jewish world brutally betrayed by its own country and a new republic that reluctantly had to come to terms with the sight of its recent past. 

This event is organized in collaboration with Centro Primo Levi, New York.

To view the full program of activities commemorating Il Giorno della Memoria, click here (or access the pdf version here).


Closing event: Bruno Munari and Experimental Music


January 14, 2023, 06:00 PM

General Admission Ticket: $15; Members & Students: Free


Join us for a talk and musical listening on Saturday, January 14 at 6pm at CIMA.

Along with his multifaceted accomplishments in the fields of painting, sculpture, graphic design and children’s literature, Bruno Munari also developed a deep relationship with the world of experimental music. In this event, music historian and composer Luciano Chessa will guide us through the listening and understanding of the ways in which Munari’s work intersected with the music of Luciano Berio, John Cage, Toru Takemitsu and Alexander Scriabin.

Luciano Chessa is a composer, conductor, performance artist, pianist, and music historian specializing in 20th-century Italian and 21st-century American repertoire. His compositions include the experimental opera Cena oltranzista nel castelletto al lago—a work of over 55 hours of fasting that was entirely live-streamed—and A Heavenly Act, an opera commissioned by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, with original video by Kalup Linzy. In New York alone, Chessa has been commissioned multiple times by the Performa Biennial, and in 2014 he presented three concerts at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum as part of the exhibition Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe. Chessa is the author of Luigi Russolo Futurist. Noise, Visual Arts, and the Occult (2012), the first monograph dedicated to Russolo and his “Art of Noise.” In 2009, his Orchestra of Futurist Noise Intoners (OFNI) was hailed by the New York Times as one of the best events in the arts; it continues to tour internationally.

The Sonus faber Il Cremonese speakers will deliver a superb listening experience of the work of these experimental music composers. Many thanks to our friends at Sonus faber for sponsoring the Munari exhibition and supporting us in this final event.

Public Programming at CIMA is made possible with the generous support of Tiro a Segno Foundation.


Bruno Munari Study Day


December 09, 2022, 10:00 AM - 06:30 PM


Keynote speaker: Prof. Pierpaolo Antonello, Cambridge University

The exhibition Bruno Munari: The Child Within, curated by Steven Guarnaccia and on view in New York at the Center for Italian Modern Art (CIMA) from October 6, 2022 to January 14, 2023, focuses on Munari’s illustrated children’s books. These books expressed, in an accessible form, Munari’s wide-ranging ideas about the possibilities that art offered to communicate visually. Together with artworks, design objects, photographs and toys, the exhibition provides countless perspectives through which to examine Munari’s approach to art, design, and pedagogy.

With this Bruno Munari Study Day, CIMA’s Research Fellows join prominent scholars from diverse fields—including History of Art and Architecture, Italian Studies, History of Design, Education, Children’s Literature—to investigate the themes at the center of the exhibition within and outside of established critical frameworks.

The conference will take place in person at the Center for Italian Modern Art. Besides the keynote address and two scholarly panels, a group of designers and design historians will also gather for a special roundtable session dedicated to a direct analysis of some of the books and objects in the exhibition, a “return to primary sources” that will provide a firsthand opportunity to inspect the innovations at play in Munari’s work.

Conference Program

10AM: Conference registration and viewing of the exhibition Bruno Munari: The Child Within, curated by Steven Guarnaccia.

11AM: Panel 1 – Bruno Munari and the Visual Arts

Maria Antonella Pelizzari (Hunter College and CUNY Graduate Center), “CONFABULATIONS: Munari’s Photographic Alphabet”

David Reinfurt (Princeton University), “… meet the Tetracono”

Luca Zaffarano (curator and independent scholar), “Travelling with Bruno Munari”

Giulia Zompa (CIMA Research Fellow), “The American Munari between Art, Publishing, and Design”

Followed by discussion

12:30-1:30PM: Lunch Break

1:30PM: Panel 2 – In Munari’s Words: Education, Design and Publishing

Margaret Scarborough (CIMA Resarch Fellow), “The Cages of Bruno Munari: Fantasies of Freedom and Constraint”

Nicola Lucchi (Center for Italian Modern Art), “Bruno Munari, or the Art of the Side Gig”

Paloma Diaz-Dickson (illustrator, Maryland Institute College of Art), “Redefining Children’s Books One Page at a Time: The Work of Bruno Munari and Květa Pacovská”

Followed by discussion

3PM: Panel 3: Roundtable discussion on Munari’s select books and games

Moderator: Kimberlie Birks (independent scholar, design writer)

Discussants: Nicola Cipani (New York University), Paloma Diaz-Dickson (illustrator, Maryland Institute College of Art), Isabel Roxas (storyteller and graphic artist)

5:30PM Keynote address

Pierpaolo Antonello (Cambridge University), “Open Works: Bruno Munari’s Interactive Design in an Analog World”



Public programming at CIMA is made possible with the generous support of Tiro a Segno Foundation



Forming Citizens for a New Era: Soviet Children’s Books and their Reception in Europe


December 06, 2022, 06:00 PM - 07:00 PM

General Admission Ticket: $15; Members & Students: Free


This talk will examine the radically innovative design of children’s books that developed in the fledgling Soviet state between 1918 and 1932. Integrating text and image, these books portrayed the life of ordinary people in a dynamic modernist graphic language that sought to inspire young minds to take an active part in building a new society. Starting in the 1920s, Soviet children’s books were regularly shown in Europe, inspiring many innovative artists, including Bruno Munari.

Masha Chlenova, PhD, is an art historian and curator based in New York City. She held curatorial positions at the Guggenheim Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. She has published widely on Soviet and European avant-garde, including in the journal October, in edited books, and in exhibition catalogs published by the Guggenheim Museum, MoMA, Tate Modern, Royal Academy of Arts, Centre Pompidou and Muzeum Sztuki. Among the exhibitions she organized in New York was Russian Revolution: A Contested Legacy, held at the International Print Center NY in 2017. Most recently she curated a major exhibition entitled Encounters: Russian and Soviet Art Across the Borders, 1910-1990 for the Muchmuseet in Oslo. Scheduled to open in February 2023, this exhibition became unthinkable following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Chlenova teaches art history at Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts at The New School.

Public Programming at CIMA is made possible with the generous support of Tiro a Segno Foundation.


Intern Night at CIMA


December 02, 2022, 05:00 PM - 07:00 PM

General Admission: Always free to Students 


Calling all interns of artistic and cultural institutions in New York City!

Join us at CIMA for a special FREE evening event to meet fellow interns in the art and art history world in the five boroughs.

5:00 – 5:30 pm: Refreshments, conversation and music.

5:30pm: Guided tour of CIMA’s exhibition, Bruno Munari: The Child Within

This is an in-person event. Mask wearing is recommended.

Limited capacity. Reserve your free ticket now!