Visualizing Otherness in Modern Italy (XIX-XX century)

organized by Melania Savino and Eva-Maria Troelenberg (Max-Planck-Research Group "Objects in the Contact Zone – The cross-cultural Lives of Things")

Throughout the modern history of Italy, objects and cultural and artistic practices from non-European cultures such as Africa, the Arab world, South and Southeast Asia, China and South America have contributed to the construction of a modern Italian visual identity. Cross-cultural and cross-national exchanges between Italy and non-Western countries led to the introduction of "other" visual practices and codes into the Italian framework, where they contributed to redefinitions of visual narratives or the hybridization of iconographic languages. Against the background of historical circumstances such as the rise of nationalist movements and colonial sentiments, these encounters have not only raised questions about the possibilities of understanding between European and non-European cultures but also participated in the creation of a new visual language.

Yet these phenomena are understudied and deserve to be examined critically in the light of complex networks of multiple cross-national and international interactions. Most of the existing studies in this field explore these themes in the visual cultures of other European countries and the interplay of Italian traditions with other cultures has never been fully assessed.

By shedding light on the transformation of the artistic, museological and cultural practices in Italy from the beginning of the nineteenth century up to the end of the Second World War, the proposed workshop aims to explore and demonstrate how "other" works of art and traditions have played an active role in shaping the modern Italian visual identity. This workshop therefore is primarily concerned with the perceptions of such objects or cultural and aesthetic practices within the narratives of modern Italy.

26 – 27 Febbraio 2015, ore 14:00

Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz

Palazzo Grifoni Budini Gattai
Via dei Servi 51
50122 Firenze


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