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The idea of Rome in Fascist art and architecture: the decorative program of the Palazzo dei congressi in EUR, Rome

By Flavia Marcello


This paper engages with the notion of interspace by examining an understudied and unpublished cycle of mosaics and frescoes destined for the main hall of the Palazzo dei Congressi in Rome's south-western suburb of EUR, a major building project by Roman architect Adalberto Libera. It first provides a socio-historical and aesthetic background to the building of EUR as Rome's international exposition of 1942, which aimed to celebrate the achievements of Italian (and fascist) civilisation. It then focuses on the concept of Romanita (or Roman-ness) as a mythical and idealised past that was engaged on a number of levels as a teleological foundation for the advent (and eternity) of fascist rule. This past was adopted, interpreted and made manifest at the urban scale in the master plan of EUR, at the architectural scale in the buildings and at the interior scale in the decorative programs incorporated in each. It argues that the Palazzo dei Congressi allows us to gain further insight into the notion of interspace as it exemplifies this on a number of physical, symbolic and temporal levels. Physically, in the urban space, architectural form and interiors; symbolically, in the content and compositional layout of the mosaics; and temporally, in the use of historical elision and conflation between mythical pasts and idealised present

Topics: Interspaces, Romanita, Architecture, Symbolic, Urban space, Architectural form
Publisher: Australian Institute of Art History, The University of Melbourne
Year: 2010
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