Building an International Identity
2 The Past in the Present 53
53 2 The Past in the Present The tendency of twentieth-century Italian artists to reiterate the forms and tech- niques of their own historical, cultural trajectory served the purpose of providing context and stability for a cultural production suffering the dislocation and crisis of identity brought on by recent political oppression and social alienation. In efforts to define a new language capable of reflecting an altered, post-war reali- ty, Italian artists in the 1960s and 1970s inadvertently called upon an established cultural context from which to launch their own artistic identity. The past offered not only an ideological point of resistance for Arte Povera but an internationally known context from which to emerge and an infamous reference point for their unprecedented visual experiments. The presence of the past in Italian post-war art is a truth that permeated the artworks by virtue of an environmental influ- ence, but which was capitalized on by figures external to the creative current. Into the mid 1970s the homogenizing effects of capitalism and consumerism were still a threat to the possibility of an art form articulated in essential energies and real life. Artists of this period reflected on capitalism’s influence in a society struggling with an identity both industrial and rural, traditional and modern. Rudi Fuchs comments on the difficulty for artists to articulate a relevant artistic expression in this period of homogenization and immediate gratification “[…] without falling into the trap of fashions, forms of narrow-mindedness and tradi- tional nostalgias” (qtd. in Corà, Burri e...
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