Publication News: Art History

Modelling Beachwear In The Palace Of Labor

I am thrilled to announce the inclusion of my article, “Materializing Modernism in Postwar Italy: Fausto Melotti, Gio Ponti, and the 1961 Esposizione Internazionale del Lavoro,”  in the September 2016 special issue of Art History. The issue, edited by Natalie Adamson and Steven Harris, examines the role of materials and materiality in European art between 1946 and 1972, and includes fantastic essays on CoBrA, Soulages, British design, Spoerri, and Vautrier among others.

My article examines, the Italian sculptor Fausto Melotti and his massive display of 800 handcrafted ceramic tiles meant to evoke the ‘Evolution of Form in Craftsmanship’ for the 1961 Esposizione Internazionale del Lavoro (International Labour Exhibition/EIL). The exhibition was one of the main features of Italia ’61, an even larger event occurring throughout Turin that summer, celebrating the centenary of Italy’s unification. Under the supervision of the ruling Christian Democrats and the patronage of corporations like FIAT, the architect Gio Ponti designed the EIL to highlight the positive outcomes of industrialization in postwar Italy, while also situating the country within an emergent global, consumer goods-driven economy. Melotti’s project materially manifested the lofty goals of the exhibition’s organizers, but did so in a paradoxical manner – reflecting the possibilities of modern life while simultaneously suggesting the destabilization wrought by such rapid social and economic change.


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