Two Generations of Roman Artists, towards 1960

SERIES: From VIVE to the city. The history of art in Rome in the 15th-20th centuries - Under the aegis of Silvia Ginzburg, professor of the History of Modern Art, Università di Roma Tre
SPEAKERFlavio Fergonzi
DATEThursday 12 October, 6pm
PLACE: Palazzo Venezia, Sala del Refettorio

In November 1960, an exhibition opened at the Galleria La Salita in Rome revealing a veritable generational split. On the one hand there were artists born in the twenties such as Gastone Novelli, Achille Perilli and Pietro Dorazio who had behind them a decade or more of abstract and informal research; on the other hand there were artists born in the thirties such as Mario Schifano, Tano Festa, Franco Angeli, who were then making their debut in the art world and who felt that the approach of their slightly older colleagues was outdated. These younger painters tried to deal with the problem of the painting-object through the use of monochrome; they understood the unsurpassed excellence of Alberto Burri’s teaching but had no desire to be his followers; they felt the strength of the contemporary American models (Frank Stella, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns) and wanted to measure themselves with them. The lecture questions the co-presence, on the Roman art scene around 1960, of these two generations of painters. Starting from concrete analyses of works, it will investigate the cultural background and poetics of the artists, paying particular attention to the different attitudes towards the culture and lifestyle of the United States of America.


Flavio Fergonzi (Pavia, 1963) teaches History of Contemporary art at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, where he directs the Laboratory of Historical-Artistic Documentation. His research has dealt with sculpture in the 19th and 20th centuries: “Rodin and Michelangelo. A Study in Artistic Inspiration”, (Charta, 1997), “Marino Marini. Visual passions”, (Venice, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, 2018); art criticism of the 20th century: “Lessicalità visiva dell’Italiano”, (Scuola Normale Superiore, 1996); the history of collecting: “The Mattioli Collection”, (Skira, 2003), the early 20th-century artistic avant-garde “Filologia del 900. Modigliani Sironi Morandi Martini”, (Electa, 2013). His latest research has studied the relationship between Italian and American painting in the post-war period: “Una nuova superficie. Jasper Johns e gli artisti italiani” (Electa, 2019).