Assistant Professor in Art History, Faculty of Arts
After gaining a BA in History of Art and Italian at the University of Bristol, I moved to the Courtauld Institute of Art, where I completed an MA and PhD under the supervision of Professor Christopher Green. In 2007, I was Research Assistant for the exhibition Radical Light: Italy's Divisionist Painters 1891-1910 at the National Gallery, London. Before joining the University of Nottingham in 2010, I was British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in Italian Studies at the University of Manchester. In 2017-18, I was Henry Moore Foundation-British School at Rome Fellow in Sculpture.
My research focuses on art and visual culture in twentieth-century Italy, especially during the fascist era and the immediate post-war period. I am particularly interested in the role of the visual in the political cultures of the fascist regime, the anti-fascist resistance, and the Italian Communist Party. My work has focused on representations of landscape and labour, and the ways in which these relate to political narratives and identities. I am also interested in the ways in which twentieth-century Italian art has sought to reuse and reinvent the art of the past.
My teaching explores aspects of visual culture in twentieth-century Europe. Key themes include the relationship between art and politics, the role of the visual in identity formation, landscape art,… read more
My current research is primarily concerned with landscape art in fascist Italy. Building on my postdoctoral work on the regionalist fascism of the Strapaese movement, this project explores the ways… read more
LARA PUCCI, 2023. Postcards from the Past: Fascist Site-Seeing in Post-War Italy Annali d'Italianistica: Il fascismo nella cultura italiana: 1945-2023. 41, 317-344
I welcome postgraduate research proposals that relate to any aspect of art or visual culture in late-nineteenth or twentieth-century Italy, especially those that engage with political contexts and cultures, conceptions of landscape, or notions of history, memory or modernity.
Completed PhD supervision:
Maria Del Buono (2021), An Interdisciplinary Dialogue between Cinema and its Posters: Italy, 1945-1979 (Midlands3Cities Scholarship, University of Birmingham, co-supervisor).
Roberta Minnucci (2021), Reclaiming the Past in Post-War Italian Art: Cultural Memory in Arte Povera, 1964-1974 (Midlands3Cities Scholarship, University of Nottingham, lead supervisor).
My teaching explores aspects of visual culture in twentieth-century Europe. Key themes include the relationship between art and politics, the role of the visual in identity formation, landscape art, and artistic responses to twentieth-century modernity.
At undergraduate level, I have convened and taught modules on Art and Power; European Avant-Garde Film; Fascism, Spectacle and Display; Futurism; and Landscape and Identity in Twentieth Century Italy. I have also convened the core first-year module Introduction to Art History, and co-taught the second year module International Study in Amsterdam, Berlin, and Rome.
At MA level, I have convened the team-taught module Landscape, Space, Place, and have co-taught modules on Art and Spectatorship, Image and Identity, and Visualising Conflict. I have also co-convened the core MA modules Critical Approaches to Art History and Visual Culture, and Exhibition Histories and Practices.
My current research is primarily concerned with landscape art in fascist Italy. Building on my postdoctoral work on the regionalist fascism of the Strapaese movement, this project explores the ways in which artistic representations of Italy's landscapes shaped and were shaped by the regime's conceptions of the rural environment. I am currently working on two articles relating to this project.
The first examines the theme of landscape in the interwar work of the playfully irreverent artist and designer Bruno Munari. Focusing on the cosmic landscapes he produced in the 1930s, it considers the significance of Munari's extraterrestrial and fantasy environments in light of contemporary debates on landscape and spirituality.
The second is concerned with the ways in which the Strapaese movement engaged with Italian Renaissance tradition. Focusing on their representations of the Tuscan landscape, it examines Strapaese's reinvention of this artistic heritage as a parallel to the local peasant traditions they championed as an antidote to what they saw as the homogenizing effects of both cosmopolitan urban culture and the centralized fascist state.
A particular interest in the cultural significance of water in fascist Italy has emerged from my broader research on landscape. I developed this aspect of my research as Henry Moore Foundation-British School at Rome Fellow in Sculpture from January-March 2018. My Fellowship project examined fountains as monumental sculptures in the fascist public arena, focusing on the regime's new architectural schemes on the periphery and in the vicinity of Rome. These sites, including the Foro Mussolini sports complex and the E42 exhibition district, gave material expression to the discourse of regeneration that was central to Fascism's nationalist project. My project analysed the fountains located within these architectural schemes as emblems of this regenerative nationalism; at once products of the regime's revival of Roman models of hygiene and sanitation, and symbols of Fascism's future plans to purify Italy.
My doctoral thesis focused on the work of the painter Renato Guttuso and the filmmakers Luchino Visconti and Giuseppe De Santis in the decade following the Second World War. It explored the shared political and creative concerns of these three practitioners, who had met and begun to collaborate in the final years of the fascist regime, and who would become key exponents of post-war realism in Italian art and cinema. All three were affiliated to the Italian Communist Party, whose political strategies and cultural policies provided the contextual framework for my thesis. My research focused on representations of labour as a means of exploring the broader political and cultural issues at stake during the turbulent decade of Italy's transition from World War to Cold War. This work has produced four major articles. This first, published in the Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, studies the themes of rural labour and peasant activism in the work of Guttuso and De Santis. The second, published in the Oxford Art Journal, explores tensions between social engagement and nostalgia in representations by Visconti and Guttuso of fishing communities in Sicily and Calabria. My PhD research has informed a third article, published in Italian Studies, examining the mythologizing of Italy's anti-fascist resistance in the 1945 documentary film Giorni di gloria, to which Visconti and De Santis contributed. Most recently, I have developed aspects of my doctoral research on the citation of Picasso's work in protest art associated with Italy's anti-fascist resistance and post-war political left for an article in Tate Papers. The article examines Guttuso's serial citation of Picasso's Guernica in light of the Italian Communist Party's production of history.
My postdoctoral research extended my interest in Italian ruralism to the interwar years of the fascist regime. As British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Manchester, my work focused on the Strapaese movement, which advocated a regionalist fascism rooted in the peasant traditions and rural landscapes of Tuscany and Emilia Romagna. My research examined the paradoxical position of Strapaese as a staunchly fascist movement that was fiercely opposed to other forms of cultural expression aligned to the regime. An essay based on this work was published in Film, Art, New Media: Museum Without Walls? in 2012. This essay examines Alessandro Blasetti's film Terra Madre (1931) alongside the art and writings of the Strapaese movement. It argues that both celebrate enduring peasant customs and their rootedness in the rural landscape as a means of bringing about national renewal while preserving local difference. I am continuing to work on the Strapaese movement as part of my ongoing research on Fascism and landscape.