From May to June 1948, and with the approval of MoMA’s trustees, Alfred H. Barr, Jr., and James Thrall Soby did a “grand tour” of Italy, visiting artists, collectors, critics, dealers, museum, and galleries in Milan, Bergamo, Brescia, Rome, Venice, and Florence. Along the way they saw the Fifth Quadriennale in Rome and the Twenty-Fourth Venice Biennale; these, the most important art events of the time, would prove major sources for Barr and Soby as the curators of the 1949 exhibition Twentieth-Century Italian Art. The mission of the journey was double: selecting artworks for the show, and acquiring artworks for MoMA’s collection, which was sparse in its Italian modern art holdings. This essay analyzes how and why Barr and Soby worked to shape a history of Italian modern art within the international context of modernism according to the stylistic genealogy of art that Barr had, since 1936, proposed at MoMA. The details of whom they met; which works they saw and selected, borrowed or purchased; and which works weren’t available makes it possible to better understand the framework of the exhibition. In effect, Barr and Soby’s approach was ambivalent: their desire for autonomy and their strategy of not involving public institutions allowed them to build direct relationships with artists and private collectors. Twentieth-Century Italian Art was an operation of cultural diplomacy that needed to go through official channels, even as the curators insisted on selecting works based primarily on their artistic value and high quality, without prioritizing the political affiliation of the artists. Barr and Soby considered the new democratic and political order in Italy after the end of Fascism an indispensable prerequisite for an artistic “renaissance,” which merited the organization of an exhibition at MoMA; they often agreed on selected artworks, and their personal tastes and interests emerged during the process.
Alfred H. Barr, Jr., and James Thrall Soby’s Grand Tour of Italy / S. Bignami, D. Colombo. - In: ITALIAN MODERN ART. - ISSN 2640-8511. - 2020:3(2020 Jan), pp. 1-54.
|Titolo:||Alfred H. Barr, Jr., and James Thrall Soby’s Grand Tour of Italy|
|Parole Chiave:||Twentieth-Century Italian Art; MoMA; James T. Soby; Alfred H. Barr Jr; Grand Tour; art collecting; modernism; Italy-USA|
|Settore Scientifico Disciplinare:||Settore L-ART/03 - Storia dell'Arte Contemporanea|
Settore L-ART/04 - Museologia e Critica Artistica e del Restauro
|Data di pubblicazione:||gen-2020|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||01 - Articolo su periodico|
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