Radical Light: Divisionist Painting and The Birth of a New Italy, illustrated lecture by Professor Lucy Riall

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At the end of the 19th century, Italy was remarkable for its political and social contrasts. Government scandals, defeats in colonial Africa, economic crisis and popular unrest at home turned, in the space of a few years, into political stability, industrial take-off and a mood of national optimism.

Professor Lucy Riall will be looking at the political and cultural impact of the ‘fin de siècle crisis’ in Italy and discussing to what extent it can be linked to the development of a new artistic style during the same period, with artists such as Gaetano Previati, Giovanni Segantini and Angelo Morbelli exhibiting at the Brera in Milan in 1891.

They became known as Divisionists and their innovative approach to technique, especially in the study of light, together with their interest in socialism and Symbolism, laid the ground for 20th century Futurism. This even more radical artistic movement started with Filippo Marinetti’s first Futurist Manifesto in 1909, attracting artists such as Giacomo Balla, Gino Severini and Mario Sironi, finally making a more revolutionary artistic experiment with Cubism and abstract art.

Lucy Riall is Professor of History at Birkbeck, University of London and an expert in 19th and 20th century Italian history. She is the author of several books, including Garibaldi, Invention of a Hero (2007) and Risorgimento, The History of Italy from Napoleon to Nation-State (2009). This is her first visit to Guernsey for The Art Fund.

Venue details

Les Cotils
St. Peter Port Guernsey Channel Islands Guernsey GY1 1UU