1st Edition

Cold War American Exhibitions of Italian Art and Design

By Antje Gamble Copyright 2024
    150 Pages 17 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Enriching the existing scholarship on this important exhibition, Italy at Work: Her Renaissance in Design Today (1950–53), this book shows the dynamic role art, specifically sculpture, played in constructing both Italian and American culture after World War II (WWII).

    Moving beyond previous studies, this book looks to the archival sources and beyond the history of design for a greater understanding of the stakes of the show. First, the book considers art’s role in this exhibition’s import—prominent mid-century sculptors like Giacomo Manzù, Fausto Melotti, and Lucio Fontana were included. Second, it foregrounds the particular role sculpture was able to play in transcending the boundaries of fine art and craft to showcase innovative formalist aesthetics of modernism without falling in the critiques of modernism playing out on the international stage in terms of state funding for art. Third, the book engages with the larger socio-political use of art as a cultural soft power both within the American and Italian contexts. Fourth, it highlights the important role race and culture of Italians and Italian-Americans played in the installation and success of this exhibition. Lastly, therefore, this study connects an investigation of modernist sculpture, modern design, post-war exhibitions, sociology, and transatlantic politics and economics to highlight the important role sculpture played in post-war Italian and American cultural production.

    The book will be of interest to scholars working in art history, design history, museum studies, Italian studies, and American studies.

    Chapter 1 – Introduction: Art and Politics in an Exhibition of "Design"

    Chapter 2 – Organizing Italy at Work under the Auspices of the Marshall Plan

    Chapter 3 – Italian-Americans as Stakeholders in an American Exhibition of Western Culture

    Chapter 4 – Ceramic Sculpture’s Special Role in Validating Italian Humanist Culture for an American Audience

    Chapter 5 – Displaying Italian Producers for American Consumers

    Chapter 6 – Thoughts on the Cultural Impacts of Italy at Work


    Antje Gamble is an art historian of Italian modernist sculpture and trans-Atlantic exhibition practices at mid-century. She is currently an associate professor of art history in the Department of Art and Design at Murray State University in Kentucky, USA.