From Neoclassicism to Futurism: Italian Prints and Drawings, 1800–1925
September 1, 2014 – February 1, 2015
West Building, Ground Floor, East Outer Tier Galleries
This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.
The visual arts in Italy were extraordinarily diverse and dynamic during the long, tortuous formation of the modern Italian state — from the first stirrings of nationalism around the time of Napoleon’s campaigns (1796 – 1797) through unification as the Kingdom of Italy (1861) until the country’s descent into fascism (1925). Nonetheless, Italian art of this era has been overshadowed by the monumental achievements of the past, from ancient Rome through the baroque period. Moreover, Italian art after the eighteenth century has been neglected in the usual histories of modern art, which have emphasized the more consistent direction and developments in other countries, especially France. Recognizing the importance and richness of the period’s art, the National Gallery of Art has begun to build a collection of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Italian prints and drawings. Broad in scope, deep in a number of areas, and excellent in quality, the collection is unsurpassed outside Italy itself.
This exhibition is an introduction to both this little-known period and the Gallery’s initiative. It consists of some seventy prints, drawings, and illustrated books from the nearly two hundred acquired in recent years, divided into three sections. The first considers the persistence of traditional styles along with the dominant role of art academies through the first half of the nineteenth century. It features engravings after admired works of the past, neoclassical compositions, stage designs, and topographic views. The second section concerns the late arrival but long embrace of romantic ideals, which emphasized naturalism, individual expression, and original approaches to printmaking through the end of the century. The third section is devoted to critical precursors of modernism, such as
Organization: Organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington.
Brochure: From Neoclassicism to Futurism: Italian Prints and Drawings, 1800-1925, by Jonathan Bober. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 2014.