Libri: Italian passion and the book

The Symposium 24 July 2013 Leigh Scott Gallery, Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne

1.00pm Introduction 1.00 - 1.15

1.15pm Andrea Rizzi .Language of love and love for language: the enterprise of

Poliphilo's dream 1.15 – 2.00

The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili has puzzled scholars for centuries: it’s almost impenetrable language defeats explanation, the woman searched and loved by Poliphilo is presented as a mysterious and living-dead woman (despite appearing as young and beautiful in the text's woodcuts), and the identity of the author is still debated fervently by experts. This paper argues that the most effective key to unlock these mysteries is love: the Hypnerotomachia is a Dantesque journey in search of the humanistic ideal of antiquity and the syncretic meeting between past and present, ancient and contemporary languages, an enduring love for knowledge and the death of Latin.

Andrea Rizzi is the Cassamarca Senior Lecturer in Italian Studies and convenor of the Italian Program at the University of Melbourne. He has been recently awarded the prestigious Harvard Villa I Tatti Fellowship in Italian Renaissance Studies. His research focuses on the role of Italian Renaissance translators and early Venetian historiography. He coordinates and teaches a very successful interdisciplinary overseas intensive program on the Italian Renaissance in Venice.

2.00pm Jaynie Anderson - An Erotic Antiquarian Romance: the Hypnerotomachia

Poliphili (Venice, 1499)   2.00 -2.45

The book was published in Venice in 1499 by Aldus Manutius, a publisher who specialized in editions of Greek and Latin texts.   Aldus only published two illustrated books. Both were commissioned and paid for by entrepreneurs.   For an incunable this is not a very rare book - at least three hundred copies survive, out of an edition of 2000.   It was paid for by a wealthy Veronese lawyer, Leonardo Crasso, who dedicated the volume to Guidobaldo, Duke of Urbino. Crasso paid Manutius for the cost of printing the volume, the printer did not participate in the financing or profits.  Like other entrepreneurs in incunables Crasso presumably sold his venture to booksellers by catalogue over a number of years, and the profits from such a venture could be considerable. However, in 1509 Crasso applied for his copyright to be extended, during which time others should not be allowed reprint or sell the book in the Veneto. He said that war and other urgent causes had prevented distribution.  In my presentation I shall discuss the extraordinary book and the critical reception of the imagery of the most famous incunable ever published, especially the impact of the woodcut illustrations on Renaissance artists in Italy, Germany and France.

Jaynie Anderson graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1966 with a joint degree in Art History and History.  She completed her doctorate at Bryn Mawr College in 1972.  From 1969 to 1974 she was appointed first woman Rhodes Fellow at the University of Oxford.  From 1972 until 1995 she taught Art history at the Ruskin School of Drawing, University of Oxford.  She was a Getty Scholar at the J. Paul Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, Santa Monica, in 1985.  From 1997 she was appointed Herald Chair of Fine Arts at the University of Melbourne. In 2001 she received the Centenary Medal for service to Australian society and the humanities in the fine arts. In 1999 she was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities; in 2008 she was the convener of the 31st Congress in the History of Art, Crossing Cultures. Conflict, Migration and Convergence, at Melbourne.  After which she was appointed President of the International Committee of the History of Art from 2008 to 2012.  In 2008 she was a visiting fellow at the National Gallery of Art Washington, and in 2008 was a visiting professor at the Harvard Villa for Renaissance Studies, I Tatti, Florence. In 2009 she was also appointed to the role of Foundation Director of the Australian Institute of Art History at the University of Melbourne.

15 min break

3.00pm Antonino Nielfi – Futurism’s Parole in libertà!: telling, assembling and

representing 3.00 –3.45

In 1912 Italian Futurism took its radical rebellion against past and tradition into the written word through the publication of the Technical Manifesto of the Futurist Literature. It was in this work that the avant-garde announced its first step towards a radical disruption of the conventions of writing, known as the “words-in-freedom”. The Manifesto enunciated a radical, “furious need to liberate the word, by taking them out from the prison of the Latin phrase” and set the rules according to which such a liberation was to take place. In the eyes of the artists, traditional literature’s grammatical rigour and logical order could not stand the test of modernity’s increasing velocity and mechanical syntheses. The rules of punctuation, expression and construction of the sentence would be radically rethought, as causality, essentiality and distant analogy transformed the written word into a powerful tool of conveyance of meaning. At the same time, creative typography would mutate text into the very product of the visual imagery it aimed to generate, recall and register, thus turning it into a true work of art.
This paper will explore some of the most iconic products of this ‘literary revolution’, such as Filippo Tommaso Marinetti’s Zang Tumb Tumb (1912) and Boccioni-Marinetti-Carrà-Piatti’s Guerrapittura (1915). Also, particular attention will be dedicated to the works of Francesco Cangiullo, such as Bello. Lettere umanizzate (1914), Milano-Dimostrazione (1915) and Caffeconcerto: Alfabeto a sorpresa (1919), in which the word-in-freedom takes the shape of an ironical commentary of the cultural ferment of a rapidly modernising époque.

Antonino L. Nielfi is a graduate magna cum laude in Italian Literature (BA) and Art History (MA) from the University of Bergamo, Italy. As a PhD Student in Art History at the University of Melbourne, conducting research on Italian Futurism’s relationship with the crowds, as an evolving trope throughout the first and the second phase of the movement (1909-1939). He is also currently curating the exhibition “SPEED 2014, The Magnificent Beauty of Mechanised Velocity” for the Italian Embassy in Australia.

3.45pm My experiences: Italians in Australia, short talks

Angela Cavalieri, artist 3.45-4.00

Gianni Formica, Manager, Brunetti 4.00-4.15

Paolo Baracchi, Coordinator, Co.As.It. Italian Historical Society 4.15-4.30

  • Questions 4.30-4.45

4.45pm Summary and thank you