Memory and Modernism in Benedetta’s Monument to Futurism & Fascism: Crossroads in Humanities and Technology
Benedetta Cappa Marinetti (1897-1977) is a figure that is relatively unknown in twentieth century scholarship and has thus been relinquished to obscurity in the history of early modernism. Yet as a tenacious member of the early twentieth century avant-garde in Italy, she played a leading artistic, theoretical and political role in the development of the Futurist movement. Benedetta’s paintings were exhibited in all of the major Futurist shows in addition to the principal Italian exhibition venues. The acclaim received from this exposure resulted in her first large-scale commission for the new Central Post Office in Palermo, Sicily (1933).
Like other Fascist buildings of this era, this structure was meant to serve as a monument to the accomplishments of the new modern Italian government under Mussolini. Benedetta was asked to paint a series of large scale canvasses memorializing the advances in technology and communication in modern Italy. These canvases were part of the Fascist program of constructing historical memory by creating monumental buildings and artwork in order to establish a new cultural nationalism.
This series of paintings manage to celebrate modern technological progress (a Futurist and Fascist goal), while reminding the viewer of the power and mystery of natural world (the past which Futurists wanted to destroy!). Benedetta combined the themes of nature and industry in a manner that suggested a physical and spiritual connection between the two. This paper investigates the contradictions and implications of Benedetta’s unique intersection of modernity and memory in a monument to Futurist and Fascist ideology.
Siobhan Conaty (United States)
Assistant Professor of Art History
Fine Arts Department
La Salle University
Person as Subject
(30 min. Conference Paper, English)