Alice Ensabella received her Ph.D. from the University La Sapienza of Rome, in co-direction with the University of Grenoble, in 2017. Her research, supervised by Alain Bonnet and Ilaria Schiaffini, focuses on the rise of an art market around early Surrealist art (1919-1930).
She began this work during her BA and MA in Art History at the University of Florence, analyzing the activity of Parisian art dealers in the 1920s and 1930s. Since 2012, she has been collaborating with the Archivio dell’Arte Metafisica in Milan and since 2013 with the Magnani Rocca Foundation in Parma (working on exhibitions on Campigli, Gino Severini, Giacomo Manzù, Marino Marini, and Paul Delvaux). In 2015 she became a member of the International Network for Young Scholars of the Forum of Art and Market (Berlin, Technische Universität).
In 2016, she assumed charge of documentation at the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art in Paris and research engineer for the Labex “Le surréalisme au regard des galeries, des collectionneurs et des médiateurs, 1924-1959”. At present, she is an assistant professor at the University of Grenoble teaching Contemporary Art History and running a seminar on the Contemporary Art Market.
Alice has published articles and essays on Surrealist art market (Ricerche di Storia dell’xArte, 2017 – Studi Online, 2015 – 2016) and on the relationship between dealers and artists (Gino Severini. L’emozione, la regola, 2016).
During her fellowship at CIMA, Alice will reconsider Savinio’s second Parisian period (1926-1933) in a new light, trying to explore in depth his relationships with André Breton and others group’s members, the influences of artists as Max Ernst on his painting, as well as the circulation of his works in the Parisian artistic environment (in private collections or auctions).
2017 CIVITELLA FELLOW
Franco Baldasso is the recipient of the 2019 Rome Price in Modern Italian Studies from the American Academy in Rome. He is Director of the Italian Program at Bard College, NY, where he is Assistant Professor of Italian Studies. In his research he 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 two books in Italian: one on Holocaust survivor Primo Levi, Il cerchio di gesso. Primo Levi narratore e testimone (Bologna, 2007), as well as Cristo senza redenzione. Curzio Malaparte e la modernità (1940-1951) (Roma, Carocci 2019, forthcoming). He also co-edited an issue of Nemla-Italian Studies titled “Italy in WWII and the Transition to Democracy: Memory, Fiction, Histories.” He contributes to publicbooks.org, and is a member of the Advisory Board of the journal Allegoria, and of the Archivio della Memoria of the Centro Studi sulla Grande Guerra “P. Pieri” in Vittorio Veneto, Italy. Franco is currently revising a book manuscript titled: “Against Redemption: Literary Dissent during the Transition from Fascism to Democracy in Italy.”
Franco also participated in the Alberto Savinio season, leading two programs exploring Savinio’s literature and contributing a paper during the Savinio Study Days.
Valeria Federici is a PhD candidate In Italian Studies as well as an MA student in History of Art and Architecture at Brown University, Providence, RI. Her interdisciplinary PhD thesis project, entitled “Network culture in Italy in the 1990s and the making of a place for art and activism,” explores how contemporary art practices, political activism, and information technology intertwine. In particular, her project focuses on political activism in Italy after 1989 and the use of information as an artistic medium. Valeria’s research interests revolve around themes of sovereignty, space, social movements, cultural identity, technology, and art. She graduated in Letters with a concentration in History of Art from the Università Roma Tre in Rome, Italy, with a thesis that explored the role of local and central government in controlling the cultural representation through the Museo Artistico Industriale (Applied Art School) and through initiatives such as the Universal Exposition held in Rome in 1911 to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the unification of the Italian kingdom. She has curated independent art projects and participated in several guest lectures and roundtables about arts management, art and activism, and the role of cultural institutions in place-making and community-building in post-industrial cities. As an independent art editor she published exhibition reviews, book reviews, and artist interviews for different magazines and online publications including The Oxford Art Journal. Her recent research projects include a study of the representation of women in Italian TV and cinema in the 1950s to be published in the volume Female Identity and Its Representations in the Arts and Humanities: Neoclassic to Twenty-first Century (Cambridge Scholars), and an investigation over the possibilities of exploring, displaying, and interacting with old and new digital artworks and artifacts. With the collaboration of the Center for Digital Scholarship at Brown University, she has completed a digital interface that explores the relationships between the Garibaldi Panorama (a painting, two hundred sixty feet in length, which has been digitized at Brown University) and the visual and textual materials collected in the Harvard Risorgimento Preservation Collection. She is a Research Team Associate for the project The Garibaldi Panorama and The Risorgimento at Brown University.
For her CIMA travel fellowship, Valeria will conduct research related to her dissertation in archives and other sources in Florence, Prato, Rome, and Venice. In particular, she is focused on studying the transformation of a former military fort located in Rome into a site for art and activism, through three spatial narratives—geographical, political, and relational.
Giulia Tulino is a Ph.D. candidate in contemporary art history at the University La Sapienza of Rome. Her thesis project, “La galleria dell’Obelisco e il surrealismo a Roma 1940-1960,” emerges from her interest in surrealism and the fantastic in Italian art during the first half of the 20th century, with a special focus on the contacts between Rome and New York. She is also currently an assistant professor for academic activities at the University La Sapienza of Rome. She has published two essays on the Obelisk Gallery in Rome: Dalla Margherita all’Obelisco: arte fantastica italiana tra Roma e New York negli anni ’40 (in the proceedings of the Irene Brin e l’Obelisco conference organized by Vittoria Caterina Caratozzolo, Ilaria Schiaffini e Claudio Zambianchi) and La galleria dell’Obelisco e il surrealismo a Roma 1944/1961: gli anni ’50, i rapporti con l’estero, le nuove generazioni post surrealiste (in the proceedings of In Corso d’Opera 2. Giornate di studio dei dottorandi di ricerca in storia dell’arte della Sapienza Università di Roma conference, Rome, 2016). As an independent curator, she has worked for both private galleries and public institutions including the MLAC (Laboratory Museum of Contemporary Art at La Sapienza University of Rome). From March 2015 she has served as the managing director and curator for the Jacorossi Collection in Rome, which holds some three thousand art works of Italian contemporary art, dating between the beginning of the 20th century to the present day.
At CIMA her research will examine the relation between Savinio the writer/critic and Savinio the painter, in connection with the legitimacy of an Italian “fantastic art.” Beginning from the art scene in Rome between 1943 and 1946 and the friendship between Savino and the artists who gravitated around the Obelisk Gallery, she aims to reconstruct a history of fantastical art in Italy and its promotion in the United States, particularly at the Julien Levy Gallery and later at the Hugo Gallery.
Serena Alessi is a researcher in Italian Studies. In 2015 she received her PhD from Royal Holloway University of London, where she also taught Italian language and culture; her thesis From Silence to Voice: Penelope’s Feminist Odyssey in Italian Literature focused on the myth of Penelope in the Italian literary tradition. She has recently been a postdoctoral Rome Fellow at The British School at Rome (2016-17) and Benno Geiger Fellow at the Fondazione Cini in Venice (2017). Her research interests include contemporary Italian literature, feminism, and postcolonial studies. She has published on the figure of Penelope, Luigi Malerba, and Alberto Savinio; she has taken part in many international conferences and organized various panels, seminars, and colloquia. In addition to her academic experiences, she is a contributor to the RaiUno TV Program Mille e un libro and to the literary blog criticaletteraria.org.
For her CIMA Fellowship she examined Alberto Savinio’s representation of mythological characters in both his literary and artistic production, with a special focus on female characters.
Giovanni Casini holds a Ph.D. from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. His dissertation, completed in 2018, focuses on the Paris-based dealer Léonce Rosenberg and the history of his Galerie L’Effort Moderne in the interwar period, touching on narratives of modernism, the history of collecting, the development of the art market, and the dealer as patron. Casini is currently a Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art, where he is expanding his doctoral dissertation and preparing a manuscript for publication. In 2016 Casini was a Fellow at the Center for Italian Modern Art (CIMA) in New York and the Guggenheim Museum’s 2017–18 Hilla Rebay International Curatorial Fellow. During his time at the Guggenheim, Casini contributed to conceive the exhibition Una mirada atrás. Giorgio Morandi y los maestros antiguos, opening at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in April 2019. In addition to his expertise and work on the interwar years, Casini has conducted research and published on art from the 1950s in England, Italy, and France.
During his fellowship at CIMA, Giovanni examined the relationship between Léonce Rosenberg and Giorgio de Chirico from 1925 to the end of the decade. During his affiliation with Rosenberg, de Chirico started to work again on Metaphysical themes, reinventing them both iconographically and technically. Casini will also address de Chirico’s two-fold commitment to two rival art dealers, Rosenberg and Paul Guillaume, in relation to the artist’s practice of producing copies and multiples.
Explore Giovanni Casini’s research on academia.edu and watch a video highlighting one of the paintings at CIMA:
Fall 2016 & Spring 2017
Maria is a PhD candidate in Art History at Freie Universität, Berlin. Under the supervision of professors Peter Geimer and Beatrice von Bismarck she is currently completing her dissertation on artistic technologies of the self in the 1970s. From 2011 until 2015 she worked as a researcher in the ERC-project “To each his own reality. The notion of the real in the fine arts of France, West Germany, East Germany and Poland 1960–1989,” headed by Mathilde Arnoux at Centre allemand d’histoire de l’art in Paris. In 2013, she conceived and organized the conference “Contemporary Art and Margins” with L. Barbisan, C. Boichot and S. Marguin at Centre Marc Bloch in Berlin, after spending the summer as a Library Grantee at the Getty Research Institute. Previously she studied art history in Milan, Tours and Berlin (2005–2011). Her fields of interest are the history of the artist-figure and exhibition history, with a special focus on the history of documenta, as well as practices of canonization and historicization. Her recent publications include the article “Modes of making art history. Looking back at documenta 5 and documenta 6”, in Stedelijk Studies #2, 2015 and the theme issue Kapitalisierungen des Marginalen, kritische berichte 3.2015 (edited with L. Barbisan and S. Marguin).
Her research for CIMA places Paolini’s artistic relationship with de Chirico within the broader perspective of artistic epigonism as a technology of the self, asking which functions do Paolini’s references to de Chirico perform, and in how far may these functions have evolved from the 1960s and 1970s until today. Paolini’s early de Chirico references will be investigated in the light of Italian neo-avant-gardist staging of the self, while his latest ones are to be read against the backdrop of current attempts to restate the sovereignty of the artist-figure at a time of increasing curatorial mediation.
Sophia Maxine Farmer
Sophia Maxine Farmer is a doctoral candidate in Art History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where her research focuses on Italian modern art and the socio-political structures that affected the production of artworks during twentieth century. Her dissertation centers on the importance of the machine era to the development of Futurist anthropomorphic objects and imagery. More specifically, her work considers the gendered connotations of the idealized mechanical man formed as a fetishized robotic cyborg in Futurist art and literature. Her research on the Futurist sub-movement, aeropittura, entitled “Aeropittura: Modern Aviation and the Fascist Idealization of the Italian Landscape” will be published in the collective volume Landscapes, Natures, Ecologies: Italy and the Environmental Humanities, forthcoming from the University of Virginia Press in 2016.
For her CIMA Fellowship she will be examining the role of citation, repetition and appropriation in the works of Giorgio de Chirico and Giulio Paolini as a way to better understand the ironic perspective presented by Italian artworks that celebrate kitsch, pastiche and parody in the twentieth century.
Rae Di Cicco
Travel Fellow 2016-17
Rae Di Cicco is a PhD candidate in the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh. She specializes in the modern art, design, and cultural history of Central Europe. Her work investigates issues of identity and politics faced in the region during the transition from imperial to national organization after World War I. Her research explores the incorporation of signifiers of national artistic styles into South Tyorlian-born Austrian-Italian artist Erika Giovanna Klien’s artistic production as a kind of cosmopolitan imagination, visualizing – literally making visual – hybrid and shifting identity and multiple belonging.
For her CIMA travel fellowship, Rae will consider collaborations and communication between Klien and her colleagues and the Italian Futurists, primarily Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and Enrico Prampolini. By investigating Klien’s active involvement with Italian Futurism, Rae’s dissertation aims to elucidate some of the ways in which cultural production has acted as a medium through which artists challenged exclusionary conceptions of belonging in Central Europe. This research forms part of a wider project that examines the navigation of certain subject positions in the avant grade.
Fabio Cafagna was born in Turin in 1983. He received his PhD in History of Art at Sapienza – University of Rome. His interests are mainly addressed to the art of 19th and 20th century and, in particular, to the relationships between figurative arts and scientific disciplines. He teaches History of Contemporary Art at the University of Insubria, Como. For the Castello di Rivoli – Museum of Contemporary Art, Rivoli-Turin, he is currently in charge of the editorial coordination of the general catalogue of the Francesco Federico Cerruti Collection, which will open to the public in spring 2019. He curated, with Virginia Bertone and Filippo Bosco, the 19th-century section of the permanent collections of GAM – Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea in Turin, within the general reorganization of 2017 coordinated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev. In 2017 he was fellow at CIMA – Center for Italian Modern Art, New York; the fellowship was promoted by CIMA, SNS – Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa and MIBACT, Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali e del Turismo, Direzione Generale Arte e Architettura Contemporanee e Periferie Urbane. He is the author of Il disegno del corpo. Anatomia Artistica all’Accademia Albertina di Torino (1829-1899) (Roma 2017) and Indizi, sintomi, impronte. Esperienze artistiche e scientifiche nell’Ottocento (Roma 2010).
During his time at CIMA, he examined the relationships that the US gallery director John Weber had with the Italian artistic avant-garde. He focused in particular on the period between the opening of his New York-based gallery (1971) and the end of the first fruitful decade of activity (1981), when Weber finally moved away from the famous SoHo Art Building, 420 West Broadway. During these years, the Italian presence was far from accidental. In fact, Weber was one of the most important American dealers of Italian art, and the program of exhibitions he held clearly shows his deep knowledge of Italian contemporary aesthetic research. If examined through a solid core of data, John Weber’s activity will reveal the connections between the growing US art market and the constitution of an Italian aesthetic canon.