THE FASCIST ART AND
The fascist style is a part of the so-called “Art Déco “, but this style
shows in Italy an exceptional aesthetic and innovative quality.
The high quality level of the buildings and of the plastic arts in Italy
can be rarely found in other countries.
In the 20’s and 30’s there has been a very interesting attempt to
reconcile the roman tradition and the most advanced modernism.
An intelligent reinterpretation of the tradition
An important characteristic of Italian “Art Déco” is its harmony with
the national traditions and its conformity to the Italian aesthetical
manner. Unlike the style of the totalitarian communist and Nazi regimes,
which have realized heavy copies, stereotyped, of superhuman size and
oriented to a classicism unknown to the national traditions, the
the realization of the classic without megalomania (it
should be emphasized this point,
which contradicts a very common statement that history books and tourist
guides pass on
and using - especially for the visible parts - noble and traditional
materials (travertine, bricks, marble)
without sacrificing (as is the case after 1950) the beautiful to the
A true interest to the ornamental beauty explains the addition of
statues, bas-relieves and mosaics, which often is very well successful.
“The Fascism has been able to amalgamate the most modern trends of that
epoch to its taste for the glorious past of the Romanità” (Guide
Gallimard - Roma, p. 92).
A diversity which reveals the freedom creators and the opening to the
Another feature is the greatest variety of creations. Contrary to the
totalitarian Nazi and Communist states, Italian architects and artists
of the twenties and thirties were not forced to follow strict
directives and enjoyed a large freedom in the creation.
The State itself often ordered some buildings to architects who had very
different ideas and conceptions (see the Palazzi della Posta in Roma).
It also happened that an architect imposed his ideas to a conservative
municipality, which before didn’t agree. So they have been realized
works of a wonderful modernism (for example the realizations of Giuseppe
Terragni in Como). Many Italian buildings of this period would have been
excluded by the Third Reich or by the URSS of Stalin as “degenerated
art”! I think, for example, about the architecture (Casa del Fascio in
Como, roman buildings of the Dopolavoro in Via Porta Portese), about the
sculpture or to the painting (see the works kept in the Museo d’Arte
Moderna e Contemporanea of Trento and Rovereto).
The variety of the trends and the great freedom guaranteed to the
creators have saved their works from the uniformity.
The style let also make an evolution to the “historicistics” works
(Stazione Centrale in Milano) up to the almost Germanic severity of the
Stazione Ostiense in Roma.
The two major trends are the “functionalist rationalism” (razionalismo
funzionalista) and the “neo-roman classicism”
The first one is represented in Roma by the Palazzo della Posta in via
Marmorata (Architects: Mario de Renzi and Adalberto Libera, 1935) and by
the wonderful buildings of Dopolavoro in Via di Porta Portese, which
seems a Bauhaus’ work, or by the Palazzo dei Congressi in Roma EUR-E42
(Architect Adalberto Libera, 1938), which is considered a masterpiece of
of Foro Mussolini (also named Foro Italico) (Architect Enrico Del
Debbio, 1932) is also a very significant example among the most
remarkable of rationalist art. It’s very interesting
as it’s almost
intact . Also the Accademia di Scherma (Architect Luigi Moretti) which
is situated in this area is a very interesting and very modern
The second trend is represented by buildings, often majestic, with
columns or arcs of travertine as the Colosseo: in Roma EUR-E42 the
Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana (Architects: Giovanni Guerrini, Ernesto
Bruno La Padula, Mario Romano, under the leadership of Marcello
Piacentini, 1938); the Museo della Civiltà Romana in Roma EUR-E42; the
lateral fronts of the Stazione Termini in Roma (Architect Angiolo
Mazzoni, 1938-1939); the majestic Ponte Flaminio on Tevere river in Roma
(Architect Armando Brasini, 1939-1951); the Via della Conciliazione in
Roma (Architects Marcello Piacentini and Spaccarelli, 1938-1950).
The Città Universitaria (Architect Marcello Piacentini, 1935) is
representative of both two trends.
The San Pietro e Paolo Church in Roma EUR-E42 (Architect Arnaldo
Foschini, 1937-1941), with volumes tightly geometric, abides by a plan
in Greek cross dominated by a large cupola of Renaissance inspiration,
while the cupola decorated with large cases and supported by
walls with “oculi”
is part of the ancient architectonic
The statues of this age,
are also a continuation of the ancient tradition, Renaissance and
neo-classic. They are an evidence
of the level of exceptional quality of the sculptors of that time in
Italia (for example Bianchini or Morescalchi in the Stadio dei Marmi in
An art and an architecture at the base of the trends and the creations
of the post-war period
A large part of the architecture of the post-war period, chiefly
rationalist, is born from trends of the fascist architecture.
Some of the fascist buildings have
been finished after 1945 (for example in Roma: Via della Conciliazione,
Flaminio bridge, Stazione Termini, Palazzo del Littorio (nowadays
Ministero degli Affari Esteri), Ministero delle Colonie Italiane
sometime with modifications for example the front face of the
Termini in Roma . 1950).
Also the Architects have continued their work up to the sixties and