Date of Degree

2-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Art History

Advisor(s)

Emily Braun

Subject Categories

History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology

Abstract

Vinicio Paladini's career as an artist, architect, and cultural critic illuminates the paradoxes of the Italian avant-garde between the World Wars. He emerged as an early proponent of communist-Futurism in 1922 and attempted to integrate futurist techniques with the Marxist theories of Antonio Gramsci. In addition, Paladini provided a direct point of contact between the Russian and Italian avant-garde, traveling to Moscow and reporting to the Italian public on Soviet artists' developments in film, photomontage, and architecture. Yet he struggled to merge his leftist ideology with his artistic practice as Fascism spread throughout Italy. Although he has been largely neglected in studies of Italian modernism, Paladini was well known to fellow artists and architects in the 1920s and 1930s, but he quickly became a pariah due to his unwillingness to compromise his ideals for regime recognition. Mussolini's pluralistic patronage, however, provided Paladini and leftist intellectuals with opportunities to continue contributing to the state-sponsored artistic milieu. A study of Paladini's career imparts valuable insights into why and how leftist intellectuals worked under the auspices of the fascist government. His participation in fascist-affiliated groups, such as Futurism and Rationalism, and contributions to government approved journals implicated his work in regime propaganda, yet also allowed him a public platform for the expression of his revolutionary ideas. Despite the origins of his art in Soviet Constructivism and communist agit-prop, he influenced the style, iconography, and propaganda efficacy of the futurist machine aesthetic, the state-sponsored film industry, and regime exhibition design in Italy. Clear divisions between left and right-wing factions within post-war art movements, such as Italian Futurism and Rationalism, are difficult to draw. Rather, it is vital to consider how Paladini consciously blurred the lines between the two in the wake of World War I and in response to Fascism. By examining the shifts within his leftist agenda and how it became commandeered by fascist propaganda, or unwittingly served it, my research documents commonalities in the politicized aesthetics by both left and right.

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