Past Fellows

Carlotta Castellani

Spring 2019


Carlotta Castellani is an Italian art historian and archivist specialized in nineteenth- and twentieth-century art. She obtained her PhD in 2016 in Art History, Literature and Cultural Studies in a joint program with the Universities of Florence and Paris IV Sorbonne. Her thesis explored “The myth of the artist and of the work in Balzac’s Le chef d’œuvre inconnu.” She is currently completing a book edited by Max Seidel with her collaboration on this subject.

Since October 2017 she has been an associate scholar at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut, where, since 2009, she has been the scientific assistant of Max Seidel, working on exhibitions and publications of twentieth-century Italian art (Francesco Clemente. Winter Flowers in New York City, Siena, Complesso museale Santa Maria della Scala, 28 June – 2 October 2016).

Since 2014, she has been responsible for the ordering and analytic study of the historical archive of the German artist residency Villa Romana, founded in Florence in 1905 by the painter Max Klinger. She published the results of this study in her book Il Salone Villa Romana. Uno spazio espositivo internazionale nella Firenze anni Ottanta curato da Katalin Burmeister. Ricostruzione di un archivio (Gli Ori, 2017). Her recent publications also include a book on the German avant-garde journal G. Material zur elementaren Gestaltung edited in Berlin between 1923-1926 (G. Una rivista costruttivista nella Berlino degli anni Venti «G» di Hans Richter, Cleup, 2018).

For the CIMA fellowship, Carlotta will study the activity of Mario Sironi as a caricaturist in the period between 1915 and 1921, with a particular attention to his the involvement in 1920 in the magazine directed by Umberto Notari «I.I.I. Le Industrie Italiane Illustrate».


Elisabetta Rattalino

Travel Fellow

Elisabetta received her PhD from the School of Art History at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland (2017), with a thesis titled The Seasons in the City: Artists and Rural Worlds in the Era of Calvino and Pasolini. Her research, supervised by Dr Alistair Rider and presented internationally in Canada, Croatia, Sweden, England, and Scotland, explored notions of rurality in postwar Italy through the diverse art practices of nine Italian artists.

Prior to her doctorate, Elisabetta studied history of art in Torino and Urbino, and completed a Masters in Landscape, Culture and Art Management (Trentino School of Management, 2011). Since then, she has produced, researched, and co-curated participatory and community-based art projects in both Italy (Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto onlus, 2011, 2012; Master dei Talenti della Società Civile, 2013-15) and Scotland (Deveron Projects, 2012; 2017-18).

For her CIMA Travel Fellowship, Elisabetta will visit archives and libraries in Rovereto, Milan, Rome, Florence, Cuneo, Treviso, and Parma to develop her doctoral thesis into a book. Influenced by Environmental Humanities discourses, her research aims at presenting an alternative art-historical narrative of the experimental artistic panorama of the 1960s and 1970s, one that brings the countryside into the picture of the Italian art scene at the time.


Elena Salza

Fall 2017 - Spring 2018

Elena Salza_Photo

Elena Salza is a doctoral candidate in History of the Arts at Ca’ Foscari University, Venice. Her thesis focuses on the development and peculiarities of Italian art, seen through the lens of the literary and artistic activity of Mario Diacono from the 1960s to the 1980s. She examines in an interdisciplinary way artistic literature and visual culture, and investigates the cultural exchanges between Italy and the United States by studying the role that a revisitation of the historical avant-gardes has played in fostering artistic experiments during those decades.

Salza studied at the University Roma Tre in Rome and at the School of the Vatican Library. She has degrees in both the humanities and art history, with a postgraduate qualification in Library Science. She has worked at the Fondazione Alighiero e Boetti in Rome, and been a member of the research team for the National Research Project The Multiplication of Art/Visual Culture in Italy, and a member of the cataloguing team of the Harald Szeemann Archive at the Getty Research Institute. She also studied at the École de Printemps in Paris in 2012, and at the Digital Humanities Fall School, Venice in 2015. In 2016 she was a recipient of the Branca Research Scholarship at Fondazione Giorgio Cini, also in Venice. Her articles have appeared in L’Uomo Nero (2011); “Arte moltiplicata. L’immagine del Novecento italiano nello specchio dei rotocalchi” in Studi di Memofonte (2013); and Arte a Firenze 1970-2015 (2016).

For her CIMA Fellowship, she will be evaluating the historical circumstances leading to Alberto Savinio’s re-appraisal in the 1970s and 1980s. In this context, she will investigate the terms and modalities of the reception of Savinio’s visual and literary imagery as a source for Francesco Clemente’s painting, placing Savinio’s rediscovery within the framework of the growing critical attention given to some of the new positions in the field of contemporary art.




Alice Ensabella

Spring 2018


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).



Franco Baldasso

Summer 2017



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, 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

Travel Fellow


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

Fall 2017

Foto Giulia Tulino

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

Fall 2017

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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

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

Fall 2016

Giovanni Casini


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 and watch a video highlighting one of the paintings at CIMA:


Maria Bremer

Fall 2016 & Spring 2017

Maria Bremer

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.