Carla Scarano D’Antonio moved to England (Lancashire then Surrey) in 2007 from Rome (Italy) and started attending creative writing courses. She obtained a Degree of Master of Arts in Creative Writing with Merit at Lancaster University in October 2012. Her work was published in Shipwrights (an online Swedish Review), Purple Patch, First Edition magazine, Northern Life, audio Flax Anthologies: Vanishing Act (Flax 020), Flash Mob (Flax 026), Cake, the Beautiful Dragons Anthologies Heavenly Bodies and My Dear Watson, London Grip, Lighthouse, South and Poetry News. She self-published a poetry pamphlet, A Winding Road, in 2011 and won the First Prize of the John Dryden Translation Competition 2016. The prize was awarded for translation of some poems by Eugenio Montale that Keith Lander and Carla co-translated. She publishes recipes, travel journals and opinions on her blog: carlascarano.blogspot.co.uk/ She is currently working on a PhD on Margaret Atwood’s work at the University of Reading. Website: http://www.carlascaranod.co.uk/
Roma città moderna
Da Nathan al Sessantotto
Rome modern city
From Nathan to 1968
Galleria d’Arte Moderna
Modern Art Gallery
Via Francesco Crispi, 245 Rome
Tourists visiting Rome can easily find the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art of Rome near via del Tritone, not far from the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain. It is part of the Museums of Rome such as Capitoline Museums, Ara Pacis, Barracco, Villa Torlonia, the Museum of Rome, Macro and others, all worth a visit.
The collection of modern and contemporary art is located inside an edifice which was once an ancient convent of the Barefooted Carmelites. Its narrow corridors and staircases open in spacious rooms where the viewer can comfortably admire major works of artists who worked in Rome in the twentieth century or who were deeply linked to the capital. The exhibition ‘Rome Modern City’ spans more than half a century, from Ernesto Nathan, who was the mayor of Rome from 1907 to 1913, until the cultural revolution of 1968. It means to pay a tribute to the capital and to the artists who lived in Rome and expressed in their art the vibrant cultural life of the capital. It is a culture between modernity and tradition that traverses meaningful and traumatic events in Italian history, from the unification of Italy, with Rome declared capital of the Italian kingdom in 1871, to the Great War, the Fascist regime, WW II and the post-war years. Demolitions and reconstructions alternate in an effort to maintain cultural references with an ancient past that cannot be denied or erased but needs to be reinterpreted and renewed. This is the aim of the most important artists of the period who gave voice to the diverse reality of the capital, which became the centre of Italian cultural life.
More than a hundred and eighty works are on display; they are mainly paintings but also sculptures, graphic design works and photographs. Rome is on the foreground with its different cultures and languages reflecting the heritage of its ancient tradition centred in the Roman monuments and Baroque churches, but also looking at the suburbs that were developing quickly creating new areas of urban space.
The end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century saw artists such as Duilio Cambellotti, Camillo Innocenti and Adolfo De Carolis who wished to reflect in their work the core of Italian tradition. They were inspired by the art of the people and were influenced by the ideas of William Morris and the School of Glasgow. Italy was mainly a rural country at the time and the artists wished to represent this reality. The life of the peasants, the agrarian myths and legends, the tools used in the labour of the land and the cycle of the seasons are their source of inspiration. This is clear in Cambellotti’s ‘Conca dei Bufali’ (bowl of buffaloes) where the aesthetic decoration emphasises the agrarian archetype. The time required order and discipline after the unification of Italy, which was preceded by wars and revolutions. The artists highlighted the ‘virtues’ of ordinary Italian people, linked to the traditional values of the family and the myth of Rome.
A more revolutionary artistic movement, Futurism, worked in parallel with this traditional trend. It emphasised speed, energy and change and was linked to the use of machinery in the advancing industrialization. Nevertheless, both movements looked at the past in an attempt to recuperate ancient traditions, in an idyllic agrarian world in one case, and in the ideals of patriotism in the other. While Futurism was connected to the European avant-garde movements, underlining dynamism and the total break with the academic past, sculptors such as Giacomo Manzù, Giovanni Prini, Emilio Greco and Arturo Martini looked for a reinterpretation of the masters of the past and of the classical tradition, so important in Italian art. They wished to break with the academic rules as well, influenced by the dramatic social and political changes that were occurring in Italy and which destabilized the artistic world, without forgetting the lessons of the past masters. They looked for symbolic and elegant lines as in Giovanni Prini’s solution in the sculpture ‘The Lovers’ that alludes to a Greek ideal of beauty without forgetting the modern emotional involvement and interpretation of the subject and of the viewer. A classical pose is present in ‘Girl on a chair’ by Giacomo Manzù where the posture expresses a natural and at the same time timeless attitude in its static and pensive position.
The legacy to the Italian masters, such as Giotto, Piero della Francesca, Michelangelo and Caravaggio, is also present in the major painters of this period in a tension between revival and renewal. The exhibition displays works by the major painters of the twentieth century who worked in Rome but became famous internationally as well, such as Giacomo Balla, Giuseppe Capogrossi, Felice Casorati, Giogio De Chirico, Fausto Pirandello, Mario Sironi, Renato Guttuso, Giulio Turcato, Mimmo Rotella, Carlo Levi and Leoncillo. Most of them belonged to the Scuola Romana (Roman School), one of the most important artistic movements of Italian art in the period between the two world wars. The painters of the Roman School were different one from the other but had some common characteristics, they all worked in Rome and had profound links with the city, were dedicated to blending great painting skills, believed in the experimentation of new approaches, and opposed Fascism. Their work is referred as ‘Realismo Magico’ (magical realism); they chose intimate, homely subjects and hidden corners for their pictures in opposition to the rhetoric of the regime. They also expressed the anxiety of the modern world depicting places of the city demolished by Mussolini’s urban project.
A superb example of this movement is Balla’s ‘The Doubt’, a portrait of his wife Elisa showing her turning toward the viewer, her facial expression both intimate and intriguing, in a play of light and shadow that reminds of Caravaggio and shows awareness of photographic techniques. A return to the ancient subjects linked to a mythical agrarian world is in Sironi’s ‘Shepherd’s Family’ where the monumental figures have the dignity of Greek heroes and remind of Picasso’s classical period.
The government supported the artists’ work organizing exhibitions, buying their oeuvres and commissioning monuments. Rome was the magnet to these artistic movements extending its influence beyond its physical borders, as the exhibition well testifies. From the Roman landscapes and the figures of the symbolist movement, to Tonalism, Magical Realism and Metaphysics. Particularly relevant are the demolition works that show how Rome was affected by the destruction of the wars but also by the new urban arrangement that destroyed and rebuilt some central areas and created new districts in the outskirts. In ‘A view of Rome’ by Capogrossi, a painter who later on developed his style in abstract patterns, the geometrical shapes of the buildings emphasise their modernity which is surrounded by the countryside with Mediterranean pine trees on the background, reminiscence of an agrarian past. ‘The Demolition of via Giulia’ by Mafai is part of the demolition series (1936-1939) recording the works that were changing Rome. It is a real life painting and alludes at the lesson of the masters in its chromatic choice. The redevelopment project meant to give a new modern face to the city in a cosmopolitan perspective emphasising the emerging middle class where sometimes the rhetoric of the political power, especially during the Fascist regime, prevailed more practical and functional solutions, emphasising the celebration of the victories of the empire.
After the war a more fruitful and open dialogue developed with the School of via Cavour, which was connected with German expressionism, exaggerating contours and colour-tones and distorting shapes. There was also a coexistence of different artistic styles though realism was still predominant. Abstract research developed as well together with Pop Art and ‘Arte Povera’. In Turcato’s ‘Rally’ the flags are repetitions of triangular shapes counterbalanced by the horizontal lines representing the crowd. The red flags invade the canvas dissolving the realistic vision in a fragment. Rotella instead used torn advertising posters emphasising the debasement of the consumerist society but also its fragility and temporality. His compositions are both casual and intentional in collages that recall the avant-garde movements of the beginning of the century.
One of the most renewing artists of the 1960s was Pino Pascali. In his work ‘Motherhood’, part of a series of ‘anatomical idols’, he gives a new solemnity to the archetypical subject using a protruding canvas covered in white enamel. The effect of purity and linear simplicity of the product, and the use of alternative materials, reaffirms the value of the Great Mother figure in a new modern light.
The different works displayed at the exhibition highlight all the aspects of Rome, from its grandiose past to the everyday almost insignificant life in a dialogue with the ancients and with the changing, sometimes traumatic, events of the twentieth century. The artists expressed these tensions in an experimentation that looked back and at the same always tended towards renewal.