Repelled Continuity : A distant gaze from 1800 towards the art of the 20th century german fascism, and the lost case of Antonio Canova


DROBE Christian

Year of publication 2019
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source STUDI NEOCLASSICI Rivista internazionale
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Keywords Canova’s Reception in German; Modern Classicism; Nazi Art; Body Concepts; Continuity
Description In May 1938, Hitler and Mussolini were given an extensive tour of Rome’s museums and art collections by Bianchi Bandinelli. A famous photograph shows them in front of Antonio Canova’s sculptor of Paolina Borghese. That moment acts as a starting point for a multitude of observations, which mostly focus on the specific conditions of Canova’s reception in Germany and the continuity of classicism. Modern classicism of the early 20th century occurred in a challenging political arena, and was later corrupted by Nazi Art. In the essay, trendsetting new forms in art from around 1800 will be elaborated, especially those of Antonio Canova. His specific reception in Germany, which neglected his stylistic achievements towards modernity, helped lessen the intrinsic meaning of the new autonomous artforms of that era. Because Canova was criticized heavily, especially in comparison to Bertel Thorvaldsen, the article observes national stereotypes that have little to do with artistic forms but that, nonetheless, are effective until the 20th century. Thematically, two subjects may be explored: the portrayal of the naked woman, and the idealized nudity of the heroic man. Canova should not be considered the forerunner of Nazi sculpture; nevertheless, the opportunities and dangers of classicist modernity start with the great Italian sculptor.
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