Margherita Sarfatti. La regina dell’arte nell’Italia fascista

9 dicembre 2015


Wednesday, December 9, 5.30 p.m.


Launch of the volume by Rachele Ferrario, edited by Mondadori

A conversation of the author with Aldo Cazzullo and Marco Fagioli

A strange destiny that of Margherita Sarfatti, a journalist, writer and first female art critic in Europe. She founded the group Novecento, she planned and arranged exhibits in Italy and in foreign countries, she frequented the avant-garde intellectuals of her time and for over twenty years deeply influenced Italian culture and art. Nonetheless, the majority of the public knows her only as “the duce’s lover”. Her personality was for a long time crushed by Mussolini’s figure. Indeed, she was a protagonist of her time, especially in the field of art, but also in politics and in forging the ideology of Fascism.

Cultured, elegant, refined, Margherita was born in Venice in 1880 from a rich Jewish family called Grassini. Since she was a young girl she frequented Antonio Fogazzaro and Guglielmo Marconi, she met the queen Elena and the patriarch Sarto, the future pope Pius X. Her parlor in Milan was a true laboratory for the artistic mindset of the time, hosting futurists such as Marinetto and Carrà, Russolo and Boccioni – who became her lover – painters of Novecento (Sironi, Funi, Bucci), intellectuals and poets as D’Annunzio and Ada Negri, and a young, untidy but ambitious man called Benito Mussolini. The passion between Margherita and Benito soon flared, generating also a fruitful partnership in which each one used the other. Mussolini used her lucid intelligence, her ruthlessness, her international and artistic connections. She, thanks to her liaison with the most powerful man in Italy, would impose herself on the cultural scene and would realize her project: the creation of an artistic avant-garde movement consistent with the Italian classic tradition. Forced to leave the country due to the racial laws, she would come back only after the fall of Fascism, but she was to remain on the margin of history.

Today the book by Rachele Ferrario, thanks to a detailed documentary research and to unpublished letters, reveals the character of a free woman, able to bravely cope with the extreme pain for the loss of her seventeen-year old son Roberto, who volunteered during World War I against his parents’ will. A woman ahead of her time, a woman who didn’t like to have no as an answer. Not even from the duce she wrote to, claiming her independence: “You took me, you conquered me, did you get loved today? Yes? Good, tomorrow we need to start all over again…I am new; I come to life every morning. What I did yesterday is not the crucial motif of what I will do tomorrow…”

Free entrance while seats last. The access to the museum is not included.