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Between censure and celebration: the decorative plan of the Casa Madre dei Mutilati in Rome (1926-1939)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 May 2019

Flavia Marcello*
Affiliation:
Centre for Design Innovation, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia

Abstract

The large triangular building sandwiched betweenthe Castel Sant’Angelo and the Palazzo di Giustizia in Rome is the Casa Madre dei Mutilati, designed by Marcello Piacentini and built in two phases between 1926 and 1928, and from 1936 to 1939. Its exterior blends in well with its surroundings, suggesting it no longer conjures memories of the Fascist regime, but inside, its decorative plan reveals a series of artworks with polyvalent meanings that were later depoliticised, ‘censored’ and rehabilitated. They throw light on the ‘difficult heritage’ of the Fascist era in a continuum of meaning and memory connected to myths of war and sacrifice.

Italian summary

La Casa Madre dei Mutilati a Roma di Marcello Piacentini è diventata un’architettura poco nota che si inserisce nel contesto urbano fra l’imponente mole del Castel Sant’Angelo e la grandiloquenza del Palazzo di Giustizia (detto il Palazzaccio). La sua forma esteriore non da idea di un programma decorativo complesso che si articola in due fasi corrispondenti al nucleo originale del 1928 e l’espansione del 1936–1939. Nel periodo post-Fascista l’insieme di statue, affreschi, porte di bronzo e basso rilievi hanno subito diversi destini. Il programma decorativo del 1928 non ha subito cancellazioni, grandi modifiche o occultazioni perché il loro formato e contentuto simbolico che, ideato indipendentemente al fascismo, era appropriato dalla propaganda del regime e che, dopo la caduta del regime, era un tema sia leggibile che accettabile per un pubblico del periodo post-fascista. Le decorazioni della seconda fase invece hanno subito sia la censura che l’abbandono. Gli affreschi raffiguranti Re Vittorio Emanuele III e Mussolini di Mario Sironi furono occultati fino alla fine degli anni 80 e sono, ora, considerati un’importante terstimonianza dell’arte italiana del novecento indipendentemente dal loro contentuto politico. Quelli di Antonio Santagata e Cipriano Efisio Oppo hanno subito, nonostante un contenuto politico più malleabile, un abbandono. La Casa Madre ci fa riflettere sui i diversi modi in cui si considera l’eredità del periodo fascista.

Type
Special Issue
Copyright
© 2019 Association for the Study of Modern Italy 

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