About The Collection
The Wolfsonian’s collection is an important resource for the study of Italian culture and politics in the first half of the twentieth century. It comprises extensive holdings in fine and decorative arts, architectural and design drawings, graphic design, industrial design, rare books, periodicals, and printed ephemera from circa 1885 to 1945. The Italian collection sheds light on the various aesthetic movements that define the period from Arts and Crafts and Stile Floreale (an Italian variant of Art Nouveau) to Futurism and Art Moderne. Works in the Italian collection focus on themes and subjects such as urbanism, industrialization, technology, politics, economics, and colonialism.
The Wolfsonian’s Italian collection includes objects and design drawings that reflect or encompass significant developments in Italian decorative arts from the late nineteenth century until the Second World War, including an outstanding selection of Italian Stile Floreale furniture. Among those designers represented in this category are Agostino Lauro, Eugenio Quarti, Galileo Chini, Carlo Bugatti, Vittoria Valabrega, Alberto Issel, Alessandro Mazzucotelli, and Ernesto Basile.
Equally notable is The Wolfsonian’s Italian material from the First World War and the interwar period. The collection includes significant material related to Italian culture during these years, including very strong holdings of Futurist decorative and graphic art, publications about Rationalist architecture, and exhibition catalogs. Among the individuals represented by objects or publications from that time frame are Fortunato Depero, F.T. Marinetti, Enrico Prampolini, and Gio Ponti. Printed materials include art journals, exhibition catalogs, portfolios, and other publications. A number of significant journals – such as Domus, Capitolium, Emporium, Casabella – and catalogs for decorative arts exhibitions complement these considerable holdings, all of which are part of The Wolfsonian’s library collection. Particularly unusual are the holdings related to art in Fascist Italy, such as the catalogs of the Venice Biennale held during the 1930s and 1940s.
The Wolfsonian also holds a large number of architectural and interior design drawings. While these drawings cover a great range of building types and styles, several concentrations of material can be identified, including domestic architecture and interiors, designs for transportation facilities (including train stations, airports, and train interiors), and designs for exposition pavilions. The Wolfsonian’s library has works that document the decorative art and architecture of this period, including books and ephemera from the expositions of 1902 (Turin) and 1906 (Milan).
In addition, books, journals, fine art, posters, and other objects in the collection address key aspects of Fascist politics and culture, including the Duce cult, Italian colonization of North Africa, the planning of new towns, the celebration of aeronautic achievements, the autarchy campaign, youth and student organizations, Romanità, and sports and fitness campaigns. The Wolfsonian also has a substantial amount of Italian war propaganda, including an archive of propaganda material produced under the Italian Social Republic.