Loading...

Hitler and Mussolini in Churches

The Church Painter’s Subversion of Fascism: The Ideological Marking of Space along the Slovene–Italian Border

by Egon Pelikan (Author)
Monographs XXVIII, 310 Pages
Series: Cultural Memories, Volume 14

Summary

When Europe fell prey to totalitarian regimes in the twentieth century, the Slovene artist Tone Kralj responded to the cruellest oppression by systematically depicting his own and his community’s resistance against Fascism and Nazism in public spaces, under the very nose of the regime. As incredible as it may seem, the regime never discovered and punished his rebellious actions. The painter embedded his ideological subversion of Fascism and Nazism in wall paintings in more than fifty Catholic churches along the Slovene–Italian ethnic border, thus disseminating his subversive message among the people with whom he shared the same cultural memory. With many of them covering a surface area of several square metres, the church paintings introduced Hitler and Mussolini into Biblical visual narratives, portraying the two dictators with irony and grotesqueness as villainous Biblical characters, often in the role of hangmen, murderers or clowns. The symbols of their regimes were incorporated into Biblical scenes depicting eschatological dimensions of the struggle between good and evil, thus spreading – in the time of the most brutal fascistization – the painter’s firm belief in the historical downfall of the Fascist and Nazi regimes.

Table Of Content


cover

Bibliographic information published by Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek
Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie;
detailed bibliographic data is available on the Internet at
http://dnb.d-nb.de.

Title: Hitler and Mussolini in churches : the church painter's subversion of fascism : the ideological marking of space along the Slovene-Italian border / Egon Pelikan

Description: Oxford ; New York : Peter Lang, [2020] | Includes
bibliographical references and index. |

Identifiers: LCCN 2019030962 | ISBN 9781789971491 (paperback)

Subjects: LCSH: Kralj, Tone--Criticism and interpretation. | Mural painting
and decoration, Slovenian--Goriška (Slovenia and Italy)--20th
century--Themes, motives. | Mural painting and decoration,
Slovenian--Karst (Slovenia and Italy : Region)--20th century--Themes, motives. | Christian art and symbolism--Goriška (Slovenia and
Italy)--Modern period, 1500- | Christian art and symbolism--Karst
(Slovenia and Italy : Region)--Modern period, 1500- | Fascism and
art--Goriška (Slovenia and Italy) | Fascism and art--Karst (Slovenia
and Italy : Region)

About the author

Egon Pelikan is Full Professor and Head of the Institute of Historical Studies of the Science and Research Centre in Koper (Slovenia). As a member of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, he was a visiting assistant professor at the Department of History of the University of Duisburg-Essen (2004–2005). He was also a visiting researcher at the Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Leipzig (2011). His research is focused on the period of political ideologies from the end of the nineteenth century to the end of the Second World War.

About the book

‘Whether casting Mussolini as Pontius Pilate or as Nero or depicting a bleeding sheep to represent the Slovene nation during the war or placing two Fascists in the crowd watching St Vitus being thrown to hungry lions, the anti-Fascist Kralj showed how art can be powerfully subversive. Egon Pelikan has produced an exciting book on an important chapter in anti-fascist history. Highly recommended.’

– Sabrina P. Ramet, Author of Alternatives to Democracy in Twentieth-Century Europe:
Collectivist Visions of Modernity
(2019)

‘Rarely are we confronted with such commanding visual assertions of identity as we are in the public works of the artist Tone Kralj. Egon Pelikan’s authoritative analysis of Kralj’s wall paintings, found in churches that dot the countryside in the Slovene/Italian borderland Primorska, reveals a deeply humane view of a disturbing world. As Pelikan shows, their iconography lends the local space powerful alternative meanings that consistently subvert the efforts of the region’s varied twentieth-century rulers to transform it.’

– Pieter M. Judson, European University Institute, Florence

When Europe fell prey to totalitarian regimes in the twentieth century, the Slovene artist Tone Kralj responded to the cruellest oppression by systematically depicting his own and his community’s resistance against Fascism and Nazism in public spaces, under the very nose of the regime. As incredible as it may seem, the regime never discovered and punished his rebellious actions. The painter embedded his ideological subversion of Fascism and Nazism in wall paintings in more than fifty Catholic churches along the Slovene–Italian ethnic border, thus disseminating his subversive message among the people with whom he shared the same cultural memory. With many of them covering a surface area of several square metres, the church paintings introduced Hitler and Mussolini into Biblical visual narratives, portraying the two dictators with irony and grotesqueness as villainous Biblical characters, often in the role of hangmen, murderers or clowns. The symbols of their regimes were incorporated into Biblical scenes depicting eschatological dimensions of the struggle between good and evil, thus spreading – in the time of the most brutal fascistization – the painter’s firm belief in the historical downfall of the Fascist and Nazi regimes.

This eBook can be cited

This edition of the eBook can be cited. To enable this we have marked the start and end of a page. In cases where a word straddles a page break, the marker is placed inside the word at exactly the same position as in the physical book. This means that occasionally a word might be bifurcated by this marker.

←vi | vii→

Figures

Figure 1. The map showing the borderland where Tone Kralj painted churches. In the possession of the author

Figure 2. Tone Kralj’s school report card from 1912 when he finished school in Dobrepolje. From the Kraljs’ personal archive

Figure 3. Kralj’s draft for the design competition for a memorial to a First World War soldier to be erected in stone at Sveta Gora near Litija in 1929. From the Kraljs’ personal archive

Figure 4. The memorial erected in 1929. Having won the design competition, Kralj is pictured in front of his work in 1929. From the Kraljs’ personal archive

Figure 5. Tone Kralj in front of his new self-designed house at 11 Gerbič Street in Ljubljana in the late 1920s. From the Kraljs’ personal archive

Figure 6. The Sower, 1921. Etching/paper. 12.9 x 36 cm. Reproduced with permission from the Božidar Jakac Art Museum Kostanjevica na Krki

Figure 7. The Sower, 1932. Etching/paper. 32 x 54.2 cm. Reproduced with permission from the Božidar Jakac Art Museum Kostanjevica na Krki

Figure 8. By the Sweat of Thy Brow, 1919. Oil/jute. 69.5 x 88 cm. Reproduced with permission from the Božidar Jakac Art Museum Kostanjevica na Krki

Figure 9. Panem Et-, 1932. Etching/paper. 52.4 x 44.6 cm. Reproduced with permission from the Božidar Jakac Art Museum Kostanjevica na Krki

←vii | viii→

Figure 10. -Et Circenses, 1932. Etching/paper. 44 x 52.4 cm. Reproduced with permission from the Božidar Jakac Art Museum Kostanjevica na Krki

Figure 11. Judith, 1934. Oil/canvas. 180 x 140 cm. Reproduced with permission from the Božidar Jakac Art Museum Kostanjevica na Krki

Figure 12. Tone Kralj’s identity document during his studies in Venice in 1939. From the Kraljs’ personal archive

Details

Pages
XXVIII, 310
ISBN (PDF)
9781789971620
ISBN (ePUB)
9781789971637
ISBN (MOBI)
9781789971644
ISBN (Softcover)
9781789971491
Language
English
Publication date
2020 (June)
Tags
Subversion of fascism Church paintings Anti-fascism The invisible line in space The painter's message in the bottle Spatial turn Phantom border
Published
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Wien, 2020. XXVIII, 310 pp., 166 fig. col., 74 fig. b/w.

Biographical notes

Egon Pelikan (Author)

Egon Pelikan is Full Professor and Head of the Institute of Historical Studies of the Science and Research Centre in Koper (Slovenia). As a member of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, he was a visiting assistant professor at the Department of History of the University of Duisburg-Essen (2004–2005). He was also a visiting researcher at the Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Leipzig (2011). His research is focused on the period of political ideologies from the end of the nineteenth century to the end of the Second World War.

Previous

Title: Hitler and Mussolini in Churches