Questo sito usa cookie per fornirti un'esperienza migliore. Proseguendo la navigazione accetti l'utilizzo dei cookie da parte nostra OK

The Course of Empires: American-Italian Cultural Relations, 1770-1980



The Course of Empires: American-Italian Cultural Relations, 1770-1980

This international conference will examine the persistent fascination of American and Italian artists with the cultural achievements of ancient Rome and the Renaissance. In creating national identities, both countries turned to history for similar reasons: to find inspiration for enlightened political practices; to locate models of artistic, political, and economic preeminence; and to seek ways to ward off imperial decadence and decline. Yet alongside this tendency toward emulation, some American and Italian artists looked askance at the myths of antique and Renaissance glories, demonstrating a skepticism toward the notion of imperial greatness. They utilized imagery of the Roman Colosseum, for example, as a multivalent symbol to articulate the rise, grandeur, terrors, and fall of empire.

The keynote “American-Italian Artistic Exchange after World War II” by Ester Coen, Professor of Art History, Università degli Studi dell’Aquila, will highlight the reality of political interactions that is reflected in the cultural history of two nations. How to understand such different courses—one of an imperialist state and one of a country that, amongst many difficulties, was unified in the second half of the nineteenth century and then went on to wage an artistic battle to enforce its contemporary relevance?

In postwar Italy, the real semantic rupture happened with Lucio Fontana, the most direct heir to the vision of time and space proclaimed by the Futurists, who carried their ideals beyond their canonical methods of painting. Correspondingly, in the United States, that rupture was enacted by Jackson Pollock and the unprecedented gravitational shift evidenced in his painting. Exploring American and Italian art of the fifties and sixties—among, for example, pop art, arte povera, and minimal art, or between conceptual and land art—allows us to rediscover encounters and intersections and above all differences in origins, sources, and cultural expressions.


Embassy of Italy 
3000 Whitehaven Street NW 
Washington, DC 20008 






Ester Coen is an expert on Futurism, metaphysical art, and Italian and international avant-gardes in the first half of the twentieth century. Her research also encompasses the sixties and seventies and the contemporary scene, with numerous essays and other publications. In collaboration with Giuliano Briganti, she curated the exhibition Pittura Metafisica (Palazzo Grassi, 1979) and edited the catalogue. With Maurizio Calvesi, she edited the catalogue raisonné of Umberto Boccioni’s works (1983). With Bill Lieberman, she curated the Boccioni retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1988), and has since been involved in many international exhibitions. She organized Richard Serra’s exhibition at Trajan’s Market (1999), planned the Gary Hill show at the Colosseum (2005), and was one of the three committee members for the Futurism centenary exhibition (Centre Pompidou, Scuderie del Quirinale, and Tate Modern). Coen is a full professor of modern and contemporary art history at the University of Aquila.




Data: Gio 19 Ott 2017

Orario: Dalle 18:00 alle 20:30

Organizzato da : Smithsonian American Art Museum

In collaborazione con : Italian Cultural Institute

Ingresso : Libero


Embassy of Italy