College Art Association 2019, Public Monuments and Sculpture in Postwar Europe

CAA Affiliated Society Membership: European Postwar Contemporary Art Forum (EPCAF) panel at CAA, 2019

Session Abstract:

The term monument comes from two Latin words: monumentum, meaning to remind and monere, meaning to admonish. In Italy, Benito Mussolini fully recognized these twin potentials and instrumentalize public sculpture for political ends. Indeed, the author Italo Calvino felt that Fascism had colonized Italy’s public realm with the innumerable monuments and buildings dedicated to spreading the regime’s agenda. How, then, did the monument subsist—with its dual meaning as both a reminder of the past and a warning of the future—in the immediate post-war years in Italy and other European countries occupied by Fascist or Nazi regimes? After the war, could the monument be reconceived as a vehicle for decolonization?

This session delves into the politics of monuments and public sculpture in Europe’s urban landscape during the second half of the 20thcentury when the rhetoric of Fascism and Nazism needed to be negotiated by artist and citizens now living in democratic states in the West and Communist countries in the East. Papers will be sought that explore public monuments and sculptures, created after 1945, that contend with historical, social, political, and urban relationships to ideologies of the Fascist and Nazi regimes, while also addressing issues relating to the time of their creation. This session is timely as America has contentiously dismantled monuments to its Confederate past and France has rid itself of all streets named after the Nazi collaborationist Marshall Pétain. Why have other European countries, like Italy, allowed its Fascist monuments to survive unquestioned?

Chaired by Martina Tanga

Session date and time: Sat, February 16, 08:30 AM
New York Hilton Midtown, Room: Nassau West

David Ehrenpreis
Christopher Bennett
Rebecca Pollack

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