The Patron State: Culture and Politics in Fascist Italy
As historians delve increasingly into the issues of political propaganda and visual art, Marla Stone provides a penetrating explanation of Italian ... Show synopsis As historians delve increasingly into the issues of political propaganda and visual art, Marla Stone provides a penetrating explanation of Italian Fascist arts patronage, one that explores the model of cultural consensus that set the Italian experience apart from that of Nazi Germany. In this book, Stone confronts some standard assumptions about the relationship between dictatorships and the arts. Even more so, she challenges conventional thinking on modernism and its political uses. In the case of Italy under Mussolini, authoritarian cultural politics were driven by a willingness to co-opt a spectrum of aesthetic movements, from modernist to neo-classical. Rather than legislate an "art of the state," the Fascist regime continually experimented with and revised its arts policy, as it pursued the support of artists and audiences. By exploring such events as the Mostra della Rivoluzione Fascista of 1932 and the evolution of the Venice Biennale, Stone offers an unparalleled analysis of the extensive system of official art exhibitions, purchases, and commissions that injected official taste into cultural production. At the same time, the author assesses the tensions implicit in state intervention in the arts--those between pluralism and propaganda, modernism and tradition, nationalism and regionalism--and the way in which a nondemocratic but modernizing and market-oriented polity handled them. Stone shows how official culture under Fascism mobilized modern and avant-garde aesthetics, emerging mass culture techniques, and a rhetoric of national culture to produce, during the 1930s, dynamic and vibrant cultural forms. Her inquiry into Fascist intervention in the art world is ultimately acultural history of Fascist Italy, one with wide resonance and broad interest.