Tag Archive: Benito Mussolini


A strong leader stands in an un-drained swamp.

“It’s so easy to laugh,
It’s so easy to hate,
It takes guts to be gentle and kind”
Lyrics by Morrissey to ‘I Know It’s Over’ by The Smiths

A recent survey carried out by the newspaper La Repubblica  found that 80% of Italians think the country needs to be run by “un uomo forte” (a strong man). In 2006, only 55% of the populace subscribed to this view while 60% held this belief in 2010.

This rising trend is worrying and depressing on many counts. It indicates that more and more voters are willing to be represented by leaders solely on the basis that they adopt strong opinions and maintain a posture of decisiveness.

On the surface this may seem logical and uncontroversial. After all, who would want a leader to be weak and indecisive? The problem lies with what exactly is meant by the word ‘strong’. Continue reading


novecentoBeing the nearest city to Benito Mussolini’s birthplace in Predappio, Forlì in Emilia-Romagna has the dubious honour of being forever guilty by association with the infamous Fascist dictator.

This makes it a fitting location for an exhibition of art and life in Italy between the world wars.

Novecento (the 1900s) in the elegant San Domenico gallery, is a comprehensive journey back to a period of time from 1918 up to 1943, the year of Mussolini’s death.

A reminder of the town’s past is on the stand near the ticket office. A leaflet, translated into English, invites visitors to explore the ‘Routes of modern architecture in the Fascist era Forlì’.

The political aberrations of Il Duce’s reign are most evident in the first rooms. It shows how the artistic movements of Futurism and Cubism and the propaganda of the times were eerily in synch with one another.

You sense the pride and spirit of optimism in works that celebrate a heightened sense of nationalism.


A sedate image from the Fascist era : Felice Casorati’s ‘Ragazza in Colina’ (1929)

With the benefit of hindsight, it is easy to reflect how quickly such triumphalism can lead to the political aberration of totalitarianism.

The ambitious exhibition seeks to show how all aspects of life were touched by the ideology of this era with a comprehensive display of paintings, sculptures, architecture and fashions. The highlights for me were works by Felice Casorati, Giorgio de Chirico and Mario Sironi.

The aim here is focused on culture rather than politics but since creative expression never occurs in a vacuum you can’t view the works without reflecting on the oppressive system the artists lived under.


Went yesterday the see the exhibition of the Milanese sculptor Adolfo Wildt  (pronounced ‘Vilt’) called  ‘L’anima e le forme da Michelangelo a Klimt’ (The soul and forms from Michelangelo to Klimt)  at the elegant Musei San Domenico in Forlì, Emilia Romagna which runs until 17th June 2012.

This was not an artist I’d heard of previously and it seems I am not alone in this as he’s a largely forgotten figure operating on the fringes of experimental figurative art without fitting into either the avant-garde or mainstream classical movements.

Gustav Wildt (1968 - 1931)

He was placeless and everything” according the introduction on the gallery’s fairly pompous audio guide which also talked about the “languid anatomies” in his work.

One of the first pieces displayed is the self-portrait (see pictured left) which expresses the anguished self doubt and inner turmoil that determined his artistic direction.

Many of the other works displayed show moods ranging from the quiet grace of Madonna-like figures to other souls in torment.

The large busts of Benito Mussolini portray the Fascist dictator in heroic fashion which makes you question the artist’s political purity, and bearing the name Adolfo is hardly reassuring on this count.

The exhibition and guide skirt this issue, focusing instead on the connections between his works and other symbolist artists, notably Gustav Klimt.

Definitely worth seeing and the exhibition does a good job of persuading patrons that this marginal outsider figure deserves a position more towards the centre stage of late 19th /early 20th century period.

Una Giornata Particolare (A Special Day ) directed by Ettore Scola (1977).

This beautiful film is set in Rome on May 8, 1939, the day  Mussolini first met Hitler.

It opens with extended documentary footage of this infamous occasion. The adoring crowds  waving swastika flags is a sobering reminder of the mass support these despicable leaders commanded.

Sophia Loren plays Antonietta who is left alone in her tenement flat when her fascist husband and tribe of six children leave to attend the celebratory rally.

While cleaning,  the family’s pet minor bird escapes through the window and lands on the stairwell near the window of the flat directly opposite.  This is next to the home of Gabriele  (Marcello Mastroianni). In retrieving the bird the two strike up a friendship through a mutual attraction and  recognition of their lonely lives.

The symbolism of the bird briefly escaping its cage soon becomes apparent. Continue reading

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