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Event Details

Tue, March 22, 2016

18:00 – 19:30

Villa La Pietra
Via Bolognese, 120
50139 Florence, ITALY

Graduate Studies Seminar

Two decades after unification, Italy was characterized by uncertain nationalism and ambivalent internationalism. The generation that grew up in the aftermath of the Risorgimento was filled with hopes as well as disillusionments. The death of Risorgimento hero Giuseppe Garibaldi in 1882 intensified feelings of anxiety about Italy’s future, which were compensated by an unusually large number of highly conventional monuments to the hero erected throughout Italy. Only one young sculptor, Medardo Rosso (1858-1928), saw through the hollow official rhetoric by rejecting the tradition of heroic mythmaking in sculpture. In this talk, I shed light on unexplored aspects of Rosso’s early political experience and his two revolutionary monument proposals for Giuseppe Garibaldi, both immediately rejected, in which the artist dared to criticize what he saw as falsely reassuring nation-building myths. I show how Rosso adopted a modern artistic language of protest to experiment with new forms of expression that rejected the heroic idioms of traditional sculpture. His original anti-heroic monument proposals—most notably one that eliminated the figure of Garibaldi in favor of the people who fought for the country’s unification—expressed far-reaching ideas that aimed to revolutionize the concept of the monument in modern times. Such radical concepts would only become fully evident in the works of twentieth-century artists such as Maya Lin in her Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.

Featured Biographies

Sharon Hecker

Independent Art Historian

Sharon Hecker is an art historian who specializes in Modern and Contemporary Italian Art. She is a leading international authority on Medardo Rosso, and has published extensively on other key twentieth-century Italian artists such as Lucio Fontana and Luciano Fabro. In 2003, she co-curated Medardo Rosso: Second Impressions at the Harvard University Art Museums (catalogue Yale University Press) and is currently co-curating an exhibition on Medardo Rosso’s sculptures, photographs, and drawings at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts (November, 2016). Her monograph, A Moment’s Monument: Medardo Rosso and the International Origins of Modern Sculpture will appear in 2017.