Made in Italy: the Appropriation of Renaissance Masterpieces in Post-War Italian Art
Flavia Frigeri is an art historian and curator. Previously she worked at Tate Modern, where she co-curated The World Goes Pop (2015), and worked on Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs (2014), Paul Klee: Making Visible (2013) and Ruins in Reverse (2013). She holds a PhD from University College London and an MA from University of Chicago. Her research focuses on post-war Italian art and includes work on contemporary image culture, exhibition histories, and cross-cultural exchanges. She is the co-editor of New Histories of Art in the Global Postwar Era: Multiple Modernisms (Routledge, 2021), a volume which advances a global understanding of post-war art beyond a Western tradition.
This project takes as a starting point the pervasive and longstanding tension between modern Italian artists and their nation’s celebrated historical past and the way it has often been understood to hold Italian art back, preventing progress and advancement. Specifically, it examines how Mario Ceroli, Tano Festa, Giosetta Fioroni, and Cesare Tacchi, all vital participants in Rome’s flourishing post-war art scene, reacted to and transformed iconic artworks from the Italian Renaissance. Adopting the visual clichés and impersonal style of popular mass media imagery and refashioning Sandro Botticelli’s paintings and Michelangelo’s sculptures with it, Festa and his peers reconfigured these images against the formation of a contemporary mythology, which saw Renaissance masterpieces being turned into expendable and fast consumable items, on a par with pasta, pizza, industrial design products and fashionable clothing. As part of this, the project will interrogate how a contemporary notion of “popular” was being developed through iconographic and material displacement.