From imitazione to creazione : Lionello Venturi, medieval art, and Fascism

Title: From imitazione to creazione : Lionello Venturi, medieval art, and Fascism
Variant title:
  • Od napodobování (imitazione) k tvorbě (creazione) : Lionello Venturi, středověké umění a fašismus
Source document: Convivium. 2017, vol. 4, iss. 1, pp. 88-103
  • ISSN
    2336-3452 (print)
    2336-808X (online)
Type: Article
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Although Lionello Venturi's anti-Fascism is well documented, further research is needed on its intersection with an eccentric reading of medieval art. Published during the consolidation of the regime as a dictatorship, Venturi's Il gusto dei primitivi (1926) challenged Italy's artistic and political return to order. But instead of comparing the Italian primitives to Classical and Renaissance artists, the author analyzed them on their own terms. He argued that the primitives were devoted to mystical creazione rather than to the representation of nature, and associated creazione with individual freedom, which clashed with Fascism's call for artists to support its politics and rely on Italy's native styles. Other than reconstructing the primitives' critical fortune, this interpretation of medieval art arose against the background of Benedetto Croce's idealist aesthetics and recent Northern European art history. In general, Venturi's position was exceptional both in Italy and abroad, since, unlike many of his German, Austrian and French colleagues, he rejected nationalist interpretations. Finally, Il gusto dei primitivi also incorporated the author's interest in modern art, which fueled his anti-Fascist activities, his refusal in 1931 to pledge allegiance to the regime, and his subsequent exile.