The Art of Objects: The Birth of Italian Industrial Culture, 1878-1928
Published: May 2018© 2018
328 Pages, 6.00 x 9.10 x 1.20 in
The Art of Objects is a cultural history of early Italian industrialism, set against the political, social, and intellectual background of post-unification Italy, and a cutting-edge investigation of the formation of Italy's industrial culture at the turn of the twentieth century. Providing a close examination of several objects of mass consumption, including watches, photographs, bicycles, gramophones, cigarettes, and toys, author Luca Cottini explores the transformation of these objects from commercial items into aesthetic and philosophical icons.
By focusing on the cultural significance of these objects as they enter the market and appear in contemporary works of art and literature, The Art of Objects outlines a comprehensive view of the age between the unification of Italy and Fascism, encompassing production and consumption, aesthetics and entrepreneurship, industry and the humanistic tradition. The observation of the slow formation of new languages, practices, and experiences around these objects also provides valuable insight into the creative laboratory of Italy's early industrial culture. By reconstructing the origins of the Italian culture of design, the book ultimately investigates Italy's critical reception of industrialism, the nation's so-called "imperfect" modernization, and its ongoing quest for an original way to modernity.
1. At the Origin of Italian Industrialism
2. Timepieces and Italian Modern Times
3. Industrial Photographs and the Fictional Vision
4. Bicycles and the Moving Body of the Nation
5. Gramophones, Radio, and the New Languages of Sound
6. Cigarettes and Smoke: The Modern Lightness of Being
7. Toys, Clothes, Furniture, and the Aesthetic Power of Play
8. The Industrial Laboratory of Italian Modernity
"The Art of Objects returns us to a late capitalist moment still squarely anchored in objecthood. The volume sheds important light on Italy’s idiosyncratic modernity, while echoing beyond the peninsula’s borders in its applications to the study of material culture."Ara H. Merjian, New York University, University of Toronto Quarterly: Letters in Canada 2018
"With its focus on the early phase of Italian industrialization, The Art of Objects offers a new and valuable contribution to the larger debate over the nature and meaning of Italy’s social, economic, and cultural modernity. As Luca Cottini argues, the success of Italian design, as well as the appeal of Italian glamour, required a rethinking of facile generalizations about the country’s failed or incomplete modernity."Anthony L. Cardoza, Department of History, Loyola University Chicago
- 2018 AAIS Book Award (Renaissance, 20th and 21st Centuries) awarded by AAIS