Can one hundred years be enough to redefine the history of a country, however young, that in that same century will face two world wars, dictatorship, up to democracy? Without forgetting technological development, the creation of infrastructures, progressive schooling, and the definitive transition to contemporaneity.
And is it perhaps possible that some crucial moments in history correspond to as many moments in which art and culture have ridden the same enthusiasm, putting new energies into play, thus rediscussing parameters and coordinates?
From the '60s to the '60s. A Century After the Unification of Italy, Pop Art is a very special exhibition project, inaugurating the new season at the National Museum of the Risorgimento in Turin under the direction of Ferruccio Martinotti, who is co-curator with Luca Beatrice. It is not only the art of today, in particular that of the great season of Italian Pop art, that enters the casket of our nineteenth century, but also the surprise of short-circuiting some works, images and figures of the Risorgimento with the most significant figurative expression of the era of the economic boom and the industrial and cultural growth of the country, one hundred years after the ratification of the Unification.
A path, therefore, which proposes, through 42 artistic testimonies of the two eras mixed together in a surprising and unusual setting, to generate suggestions of "dialogue" not didactic, nor didactic, but visual, where the visitor will be looking for connections by analogy and / or antithesis that trigger emotional curiosity, from history to the present day.
The year 1860 is characterized by the exceptionality of the enterprise of the Thousand, Garibaldi is the hero par excellence. A little less than a year later, in 1861, the Unification of Italy was sanctioned: in the space of just twenty-three months, in an unexpected, rapid and contradictory way, a Kingdom was born, not yet fully completed, with twenty-six million inhabitants. It was a new state, because it had never existed before in European political geography, and an old state, grafted onto the solidity of the Kingdom of Sardinia.
Italy, after centuries of fragmentation, brought together abysmal differences and territorial, economic, social and cultural imbalances, reflecting on a smaller scale the most radical diversities present in Europe in those years: liberalism, economic development, dynamic social segments alongside great feudal survivals, an ancient tradition of high culture alongside an illiteracy among the highest in the old continent.
In its first decade of life, the new kingdom had to face enormous difficulties and uncertainties: from the high costs for infrastructures and the whole apparatus of the State, to the dramatic fight against brigandage; from the riots that tore Turin apart for the transfer of the capital to Florence, to the annexation of Veneto with the Third War of Independence, up to the "Roman question" that, after Garibaldi's failed attempts stopped at Aspromonte and Mentana, was resolved with the decision of the Italian government to occupy Rome on September 20th, 1870.
One hundred years later, in 1961, Italy fully enters the contemporary age. Economic boom, significant increase in GDP, demographic explosion verified with the 1961 census, definitive urbanization and internal migration towards the metropolis, where there is more employment than in the countryside and the province. The face of Italy changes rapidly, even though only fifteen years have passed since the end of Fascism and the devastation of war. Automobiles, highways, small appliances mirror the conquest of a different quality of life in the Bel Paese. Not to mention the role of the cultural industry: art, cinema, theater, publishing, television are the sectors in which the strongest signs of this change are registered. Expression of the art of the most evolved countries, England and the United States in particular, Pop art exploded in Italy as well, becoming, at least until 1967, the most interesting pictorial genre precisely because it was intrinsically linked to the social phenomena of the time. And, perhaps for the first time, it surpasses a certain typically Italian regionalism to assert itself on a national level: from Rome - with the artists of Piazza del Popolo - to Milan; from Florence to Turin, which in 1961 redesigned the entire Italia '61 district, Pop Art in our country established a bridge with New York, in particular for the legendary exhibition The New Realist at the Sidney Janis Gallery which saw the participation, among others, of Mimmo Rotella and Mario Schifano.
The nineteenth-century decade is entrusted to the selection of two tempera paintings from the story told through images by Carlo Bossoli, an exceptional reporter of the events of arms in the towns and battles that were the backdrop to national unification and whose well-known collection, commissioned by Eugenio di Savoia Carignano and the London publishers Day & Son, is part of the Museum's permanent exhibition. A large part of illustration is also represented by history painting which, launched by the Ricasoli Competition in 1859, spread in the 1860s, becoming a true fashion phenomenon. The painting of history, typical of Italian Risorgimento art, with its fundamental celebratory character, was at the same time an emblematic expression of those volunteer painters-soldiers who participated in the campaigns for independence, often among the ranks of Garibaldi's volunteers, then portraying them in their paintings. The canvases of Cesare Bartolena, Michele Cammarano, Raffaele Pontremoli and Angelo Trezzini are thus counterpointed by those of Massimo d'Azeglio and the career soldier Cerruti Bauduc, alternating in the exhibition with large photographs of events and faces that marked the decade.
The 1960s, on the other hand, are represented in the exhibition by works by the following contemporary artists, from public and private collections, with a significant nucleus kindly donated by the Intesa Sanpaolo Gallerie d'Italia collections: Mario Schifano, Tano Festa, Franco Angeli, Renato Mambor, Mimmo Rotella, Giosetta Fioroni, Emilio Tadini, Enrico Baj, Gianfranco Pardi, Gianni Bertini, Roberto Malquori, Ugo Nespolo, Piero Gilardi, Aldo Mondino.
The exhibition and the catalog are edited by Luca Beatrice and Ferruccio Martinotti.