The Fate of Futurism in the USA – A lecture by Laura Mattioli

15 November 2018

From the beginning of the movement, Futurist artists actively engaged in proselytizing and spreading their ideas beyond national borders. Despite this, F.T. Marinetti refused to let his artists participate in the first major exhibition of modern art organized in the USA in 1913, The Armory Show –an error in judgment with (art) historical consequences. If the death of Marinetti in 1944 marked the definitive end of the Futurist group, the exhibition at the MoMA XX Century Italian Art of 1949 presented Futurism for the first time in the United States as the crucible of modern Italian art, with important acquisitions by American collectors and museums. The exhibition helped to mark the division between First and Second Futurism, after which only the production prior to 1916 became recognized as important for the history of art.

A more attentive reinterpretation of Futurism and of its intrinsic traits – chiefly a desire to change the daily life of the masses and their political consequence – has yet to be accepted by international critics. Despite the transversality of today’s artistic forms, cultural barriers still exist that impede a broader, more comprehensive study of the movement – something this talk will examine in the light of new methodological and museological models.

Laura Mattioli was born in Milan in 1950 to one of the most well-known collectors of modern art, Gianni Mattioli, and met and spent time with famous artists from an early age. She graduated in Modern Literature from the University of Milan and obtained a specialization degree in Art History in 1978. From 1992 to 1999, she taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bergamo, and she has curated various exhibitions, including Morandi Ultimo in Verona and in Venice in 1997-98, an exhibition on Umberto Boccioni at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2004, and Boccioni Pittore e Scultore at Palazzo Reale in Milan in 2006. In 2013, she founded the Center for Italian Modern Art (CIMA) in New York and has curated all its exhibition activities since its founding.



14 November 2018

CIMA Members are invited to join us for a private morning tour of NeoRealismo: The New Image in Italy 1932-1960 at the Grey Art Gallery, NYU. This exhibition portrays life in Italy through photography before, during, and after World War II. Installed thematically, NeoRealismo represents this pivotal moment of Italy’s cultural and social history with more than 170 images by over 60 Italian photographers. From ‘Realism in the Fascist Era’ through ‘Photojournalism and the Illustrated Press’ this exhibition traces how Italian photographers documented the immediate postwar period as well as Italy’s rebirth as a democratic nation.

Please note: CIMA Members will receive a private invitation link to RSVP for this event. 


Enjoy free entry for tours and programs, exhibition access outside of public hours, the annual catalogue, and special members-only invitations

Want to learn more about photography in Italy? Check out the talk Lindsay Harris gave at CIMA in 2015 on Medardo Rosso and Photography in Turn-of-the-Century Italy!

Metaphysical Years Lecture Series, Year 1: Franco Baldasso on 1916

13 November 2018

Metaphysical Years Lecture Series

Year 1: Franco Baldasso on 1916

This chronological 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.

Italy entered World War I in 1915, on the side of Great Britain and France against what nationalist propaganda depicted as the “barbaric” central powers of Austria and Germany. While vanguard intellectuals portrayed the event as a matter of saving civilization, it was also an opportunity for Italy to affirm its role as a new power on the European stage. After the initial patriotic frenzy and collective enthusiasm that characterized Italy’s entrance into the conflict, 1916 proved to be a dramatic contrast: instead of experiencing an efficient, technological war—eulogized by the Marinetti and the Futurists as “only hygiene of the world”—Italian soldiers endured utterly exhausting and draining conditions in the trenches. Senseless, repeated massacres on the battlefields revealed a reality contrary to any idealized vision, one in which there was very little room for glory or individual heroism. Indeed, 1916 was indisputably the year of great Italian disillusion; like so many others that year, two of the most prominent Futurist artists, Umberto Boccioni and Antonio Sant’Elia, lost their lives while serving their country. Yet 1916 was also the year in which Italian poets, artists, and writers forged a new sense of humanity, a most profound communality and fraternity. This first evening in the Metaphysical Years Lecture Series will shed light on this crucial transitional moment in Italian art and history through selected readings of outstanding texts by authors such as Giuseppe Ungaretti and Curzio Malaparte as well as the presentation of original photographic material, never before seen in the United States, from the Archivio della Grande Guerra di Vittorio Veneto.

Franco Baldasso is Director of the Italian Program at Bard College, NY, where he is Assistant Professor of Italian Studies. In his research, Baldasso examines the complex relations between Fascism and Modernism, the legacy of political violence in Italy, and finally the idea of the Mediterranean in modern and contemporary aesthetics. He authored a book on Holocaust survivor Primo Levi, Il cerchio di gesso. Primo Levi narratore e testimone (Pendragon, 2007), co-edited an issue of Nemla-Italian Studies (“Italy in WWII and the Transition to Democracy: Memory, Fiction, Histories”) and contributes to Baldasso is a member of the Advisory Board of the Italian journal Allegoria, as well as the scientific committee of the Archivio della Memoria della Grande Guerra of the Centro Studi sulla Grande Guerra “P. Pieri” in Vittorio Veneto (TV). In summer 2017, he held a CIMA Affiliated Fellowship at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation for his forthcoming book, Against Redemption: Literary Dissent during the Transition to Post-Fascism in Italy.

Missed the program? Watch the video here.

Program schedule:

6pm – registration and viewing of Metaphysical Masterpieces

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

8pm – Evening concludes


Mario Sironi and Margherita Sarfatti: Between avant-garde and modern classicism

08 November 2018

CIMA is pleased to present an evening with art historian Rachele Ferrario on the incredible relationship between artist and critic Mario Sironi—one of the protagonists of the 2018-2019 exhibition Metaphysical Masterpieces—and Margherita Sarfatti, the well-known art patron, journalist, and founder of the Novecento group.

Both Sironi and Sarfatti held pivotal roles in shaping the history of Italian modern art, particularly in the short period that marks the crucial passage from Futurism to metaphysical art, and eventually to the so-called “Return to Order” at the beginning of the 1920s. After initially meeting in Milan during the first half of the 1910s, while Sironi was still engaged in the futurist movement, their friendship deepened in 1916, the unstable year of Umberto Boccioni’s death during World War I. From this moment on, this pair moved in parallel paths, working towards their shared goal of promoting Italian art both nationally and internationally, despite the considerable constraints placed on those years by the fascist regime.

As demonstrated by their prolific correspondence, Sironi was Sarfatti’s most important artistic interlocutor in years 1919 to 1926. Their letters shed light on their deep connection and demonstrate the ways in which Sironi inspired Sarfatti’s writings and ideas, particularly those concerning the birth of the Novecento movement. At the same time, the archive also serves as a testament to the influence Sarfatti had on Sironi’s artistic practice.

Later on in the 1950s, Margherita Sarfatti described Sironi’s talent to her friend Bernard Berenson as follows: “He is able to depict a human feeling just painting a pile of barrels or a bicycle: and that’s art!” Join us for this special night dedicated to this unique and important friendship.

Art historian and critic Rachele Ferrario teaches at the Accademia di Brera, Milan. She publishes regularly in the Corriere della Sera and has written several books, including Margherita Sarfatti: La regina dell’arte nell’Italia Fascista (2015 and 2018); La regina di quadri, the first biography of Palma Bucarelli (2010 and 2018), which has been just rereleased with a new preface; Le signore dell’arte (2012), a group portrait of Carol Rama, Carla Accardi, Giosetta Fioroni and Marisa Merz; and Les Italiens de Paris, sette artisti alla conquista di Parigi (2017).

Missed the program? Watch the video here.

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

The 2018 Bridge Book Award

01 November 2018

CIMA is proud to host an evening celebrating the fourth edition of The Bridge Book Award, honoring 2018 Italian winners Luciano Funetta, for fiction, and Sandra Petrignani, for non-fiction. Maria Ida Gaeta, director of the Casa delle Letterature, Ann Goldstein, a former editor of The New Yorker magazine, and Tiziana Rinaldi Castro, Italian novelist and journalist, will facilitate the discussion. Excerpts from the winning books will be read by Montclair State University students Oscar Guevara-Perez and Domenica Russo, who translated them under the guidance of Teresa Fiore (Inserra Chair, MSU). The program will be chaired by the Consul General of Italy in New York, Francesco Genuardi.

The Bridge Book Award was created by the Casa delle Letterature of the Municipality of Rome, the American Initiative for Italian Culture (AIFIC), and the U.S. Embassy in Rome. It is designed to be a “bridge” that connects the cultures of Italy and America and promotes knowledge of the most recent literary trends in the two countries. The award is conferred annually on one work of Fiction and one work of Non-Fiction. Winners receive the translation of their texts into the opposite language. This IV edition has been sustained by additional institutions including the Center for the Book and for Reading of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage (Centro per il libro e la lettura; CEPELL), in collaboration with the Federation of Italian Writers (Federazione Unitaria Italiana Scrittori; FUIS), the Italian Consulate in NYC, the American Academy in Rome, the Center for Fiction in NY, and the Civitella Ranieri Foundation.

The 2018 American winners are Lesley N. Arimah for fiction (What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, Riverhead Books) and Arielle Saiber for non-fiction (Measured Words: Computation and Writing in Renaissance Italy, University of Toronto Press). The award ceremony for the American writers will take place at Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome (Macro) on November 14.

Missed the program? Watch the video here.

Program schedule:

6pm – registration and exhibition viewing

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

8pm – evening concludes

Speaker biographies:



24 October 2018

CIMA Members are invited to join us for a private morning visit of two exhibitions of Italian postwar photography: The New Beginning for Italian Photography: 1945-1965 at Howard Greenberg Gallery and Neorealismo. Nuova Fotografia Italiana at Keith de Lellis. Featuring works by Carlo Bavagnoli, Mario de Biasi, Alfredo Camisa, and a host of others, these group exhibitions pay homage to the important role of the photographic medium for the development of the Neorealist movement.In addition to these shows, other important installations of neorealismo are currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and at the Grey Art Gallery; mark your calendars now for November 14th, when CIMA will host a members only private tour of the latter!


Enjoy free entry for tours and programs, exhibition access outside of public hours, the annual catalogue, and special members-only invitations

Want to learn more about photography in Italy? Check out the talk Lindsay Harris gave at CIMA in 2015 on Medardo Rosso and Photography in Turn-of-the-Century Italy!

Please note: CIMA Members will receive a private invitation link to RSVP for this event.

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.

James Bradburne on the future of Brera Modern & its Milanese collections

18 October 2018

Join us for a special evening with James Bradburne, Director General of the Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, on the eve of opening to the public CIMA’s newest exhibition, Metaphysical Masterpieces 1916–1920: Morandi, Sironi, and Carrà

Palazzo Citterio, a historic palace mere steps from the Pinacoteca, was purchased in 1972 to hold the museum’s extraordinary 20th-century collections. At the core of the project Towards the Grande Brera, initially envisioned by the renowned director Franco Russoli (1923-1977), was the desire to expand the collection’s galleries as well as to make a permanent home for the Brera’s incredible holdings of Italian modern art, mostly donated to the museum by prominent Milanese collectors Emilio and Maria Jesi, Lamberto Vitali, and Gianni Mattioli (currently promised gifts on long-term loan). Great connoisseurs and passionate art patrons throughout their lives, these collectors gifted to the Pinacoteca di Brera unique masterpieces of 20th-century Italian art, including futurist paintings by Umberto Boccioni, metaphysical canvases by Giorgio Morandi, and expressionist works by Amedeo Modigliani.

James Bradburne will discuss the fascinating history of these preeminent Milanese collections in addition to providing an exclusive look into the latest developments of Brera Modern at Palazzo Citterio, currently scheduled to open in 2020. Erica Bernardi, one of CIMA’s two fall fellows, will moderate. This event serves as the inaugural public program of CIMA’s 2018-19 season and the first opportunity for audiences to see these extraordinary exemplars of metaphysical art.

Missed the event?

Watch the video here! Part 1; part 2.

Program schedule:

5:30pm: Doors open, exhibition preview and prosecco

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

7:30pm: Program concludes

8pm: Evening concludes

James M. Bradburne is a British-Canadian architect and museum specialist. He was appointed Director General of the Pinacoteca di Brera of Milan in October 2015, one of twenty such appointments made by the Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini as part of a historic shake up of the state museum sector in Italy. From 2006 to 2015 he served as the founding director of the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, one of Italy’s first public-private partnerships and Florence’s largest temporary exhibition space.

Erica Bernardi received her Ph.D. from the University Ca’ Foscari in Venice. Her research focuses on Franco Russoli, the art historian, museologist, and director of the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan; most recently she published the book Senza utopia non si fa la realtà. Scritti sul museo 1952-1977, based on her PhD dissertation. She is currently the curator of the Franco Russoli archive and collection, as well as collaborating with the Brera on historical research projects, and coordinating a work team regarding contemporary museology for ICOM – Italy. Read more about Erica’s research and her project at CIMA here.


Bruno Munari: The Lightness of Art

18 September 2018

Bruno Munari: The Lightness of Art: A book launch and conversation with co-editor Pierpaolo Antonello, contributing authors Nicola Lucchi, Ara H. Merjian, Maria Antonella Pelizzari, and panel discussants Greg D’Onofrio and Steven Guarnaccia

Dubbed a ‘Leonardo Da Vinci and Peter Pan’ of the modern world, Bruno Munari played a key role in practices as wide ranging as concrete abstraction, kinetic art, multiples and xerograph art. He also gained international recognition in industrial and graphic design, through signature objects such as his Falkland lamp (1964) and Abitacolo (1971), advertising material for firms including Campari, and editorial work for Domus and publishing houses such as Einaudi and Bompiani. Munari left an indelible mark as a design theorist and as a children’s author and educator, through the artistic laboratories he toured globally from the mid-1970s.

Bruno Munari: The Lightness of Art (Peter Lang, 2017) constitutes an unprecedented study of the artist. Through original archival research and illuminating comparisons with other artists and movements both within and outside Italy (from Dada and surrealism to Lucio Fontana, Paolo Gilardi and structural cinema), the essays gathered in this volume offer novel readings of both more familiar aspects of Munari’s career (such as his photo-essays of the 1930s and 1940s) and heretofore neglected aspects (including his light projections and performances). Pierpaolo Antonello will introduce this evening, which coincides with the twentieth anniversary of Munari’s death; his discussion will be followed by short presentations from the evening’s panelists, Nicola Lucchi, Ara H. Merjian, and Maria Antonella PelizzariGreg D’Onofrio, and Steven Guarnaccia.

Missed the program? Watch the video here.

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

Program schedule:

6pm: Doors open and books for sale

6:10pm: Introduction

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

7:30pm: Program concludes and books for sale

8pm: Evening concludes

Speaker biographies: (more…)

Alberto Savinio’s “Les chants de la mi-mort”

21 June 2018

At ISSUE Project Room: 22 Boerum Place, Brooklyn, NY 11201

U.S. premiere of Alberto Savinio’s “Les chants de la mi-mort” with new work by Nick Hallett

Thursday, June 21st, ISSUE Project Room, in partnership with CIMA, presents an evening of experimental opera curated by Lauren Rosati. The program features the first American re-staging of Alberto Savinio’s 1914 avant-garde operetta Les chants de la mi-mort (Songs of the Half-Dead) and the New York City concert premiere of the latest scene in composer-vocalist Nick Hallett’s serial opera, To Music. The performances take place prior to the final weekend of CIMA’s critically acclaimed Alberto Savinio exhibition.


Photos: Jay Isolini courtesy ISSUE Project Room

Originally staged in the offices of Apollinaire’s review Les Soirées des Paris on May 21st, 1914, where it was performed in French and Italian, Savinio’s Les chants de la mi-mort centers around a family drama during the period of the nineteenth-century Italian Risorgimento. Savinio intended this intermedia work, which combined music, literature, theatre, set design, and costumes, as a kind of Gesamtkunstwerk: a total work of art. The operetta’s characters (among them “a mad king” and “the bald man”) and scenic descriptions (including a tower, an equestrian statue, and cannon) inspired the metaphysical paintings of de Chirico. The dramatic text, as well as the piano score, incorporate noises and lighting effects—the sound of artillery fire, the flashing beam of a lighthouse—which are hallmarks of early Italian Futurist theater. The theme of this dissonant, absurdist operetta has very little to do with the Risorgimento itself; rather, its subject matter and mood pertains to Savinio’s conception of “half-death”: a state suspended between dream and reality, requiring an expansion of one’s faculties of perception to understand the world. While documentation of the original costumes and sets has been lost, and there is no information on the relationship between the music and libretto, this modern reconstruction of Les chants de la mi-mort relies on extant materials and primary sources to reimagine the production for new audiences.

The operetta will be presented in two acts: first, a dramatic reading of the libretto by mezzo-soprano Lucy Dhegrae and baritone Mario Diaz-Moresco, with an original video by Reid Farrington and a score of noises by percussionist Clara Warnaar; and second, a premiere performance of the original score by the pianist Kathleen Supové, with vocals by Dhegrae and Diaz-Moresco and additional percussion by Warnaar. The whole production runs 40-50 minutes.

In line with CIMA’s mission to present contemporary artists alongside the work of modern Italian artists, and in the spirit of inter-generational creative dialogue, this evening’s presentation of Savinio’s 1914 opera will also include the New York City concert premiere of the latest scene in composer-vocalist Nick Hallett’s opera-in-process, To Music, a dark comedy that looks at the nature of inspiration and originality through the cautionary tale of a fictional composer’s behavior on social media—a portrait of the artist on Facebook.


Isabella Rossellini in conversation with Yasmine Ergas

06 June 2018

Fifty years after 1968, Yasmine Ergas and Isabella Rossellini reflect on this tumultuous moment in Italian life, culture, and politics. Exchanging personal stories alongside photographs and documents from the women’s movement, these two life-long friends will reflect on the legacy of this important chapter in Italian history. The conversation will conclude with a question-and-answer period with the audience.



Isabella Rossellini is an actress, filmmaker, author, and model. She has a keen interest in animals and wildlife conservation; she recently completed a 50-city tour with a monologue based on her award-winning series of shorts, Green PornoSeduce Me, and Mammas. She is also completing her Masters in Animal Behavior and Conservation at Hunter College. Her book about raising heritage chickens at her farm in Long Island, which is run in association with the Peconic Land Trust, has just been published by Abrams.

Yasmine Ergas is a lawyer and sociologist. The founding director of the Specialization in Gender & Public Policy at Columbia University, she is also the co-founder and co-chair of Columbia University Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies Council, Senior Advisor to the Institute for the Study of Human Rights, and a member of the University’s Committee on Global Thought. She recently co-edited Reassembling Motherhood: Procreation and Care in a Globalized World (Columbia University Press, 2017).