Crafting a Nation: The role of Art, Craft, and Design in Constructing Post-war Italian Identities
Royal Holloway, University of London
Year of enrolment: 2017
Supervisor: Professor Giuliana Pieri
My research project will explore the interplay of art, craft and design in Italy between 1945 and 1980, investigating notions of national identity and nation building through these artistic disciplines. Using an interdisciplinary approach combining historical sociology and the field of nationalism studies with design and art history, I will explore the following questions:1) To what extent were the spheres of contemporary art and design part of the same scene of cultural ferment in Italy, between the years 1945 and 1975? Were they aware of each other’s practice and influenced by the same sources and ideas?2) In what ways have the techniques and materials of traditional craft industries influenced art and design in this period? How has this influence ben exerted, and to what extent is it problematic as well as progressive?3) To what extent are questions of national and regional identity reflected in the work of designers and artists of this period? Are these reflections consciously made by artists and designers or propagated by critics, curators, and commentators?This project will consider the cultural landscape of post-war Italy as an interconnected network of artists, designers, curators and architects, where previous research has artificially separated these disciplines. It will analyse, for the first time, the interplay of design, art and craft, through the prism of national identity and nation building, arguing that the worlds of avant-garde art and design used craft techniques and materials in ways which were both progressive and nostalgic, reflecting an ambivalent yet deeply rooted struggle to define a post-unification, post-fascist, and increasingly international notion Italianità (Italian-ness).This interdisciplinary approach reflects current trends in both scholarship and curating which increasingly draw on multiple fields of study in order to formulate a more comprehensive view of movements, artworks, and artists.