The Italian Presence in Post-war America, 1949-1972. Architecture, design, fashion

Politecnico di Milano, Università Roma Tre, Università di Scienze Gastronomiche di Pollenzo, and Università del Piemonte Orientale organize a conference which invites contributions unveiling the cultural complexity of the transatlantic transfer during a period ranging from 1949 (the date of the inauguration of the exhibition XX Century Italian Art at the Museum of Modern Art in New York) to 1972 (when the show Italy: The new domestic landscape opened at the same institution); in addition to this, it aims at identifying the occasions and the vectors that made the transfer possible.

The relationship between Italy and the United States has often been considered through the lenses of the Americanization of Italian culture. Reversing this perspective, the conference intends to investigate at the scale of architecture, interiors, design, and fashion the presence of Italian design in American culture since the end of Second World War, considering the involvement of professional milieus as well as the implications at the level of popular perception. The event’s objective is to explore the trajectories, the processes of transfer, the circulation of people, discourses, ideas, or design models in the framework of the cultural, political, and economic exchanges that took place across the Atlantic, that is the vector making the exchanges possible.

Vectors could be subjects (e.g., persons, institutions, companies); events (e.g., conferences, meetings, exhibitions, presentations); media (e.g., books, magazines, articles, films); things (e.g., architecture, interiors, design objects, furniture, interventions at the urban scale, fashion items). Proposals from fields as diverse as architecture, interiors, design, fashion, and urban studies are welcome. We are particularly interested in the studies at the intersection between different research fields, showing their mutual influence (such as interiors on movies, literature on consumption).All abstract details are available in the call for papers.

The research project Transatlantic Transfers: The Italian Presence in post-war America 1949-1972 focuses on the mechanisms that led to the definition of an Italian cultural identity in the United States in the years following the Second World War. The research adopts a transnational perspective and a multidisciplinary approach encompassing the studies of production of knowledge, international relations and politics, material culture, publishing industry, visual arts, literature, architecture, design, cinema, music, and food culture. The project’s founding assumption is that the unprecedent wave of intellectual, economic, and productive creativity that characterized postwar Italian culture had a noteworthy impact on America’s life and, in particular, on its emerging middle class’s material and cultural consumption habits. 

Abstract are to be sent to: transatlantictransfers@polimi.it