Lecture--What Monuments for a Modern Century? Italian Colonial Arches in Africa

Francesco de Angelis, Professor of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University

Monumental arches erected in Somalia and Libya in the 1920s and ‘30s conspicuously embodied Italy’s claims to a special relationship with the glories of the Roman empire. Yet, along with examples that more closely conformed to classical or neoclassical paradigms, there were others whose design bore little resemblance to conventional models. Instead, their architectural language, which often incorporated local vernacular features, testified to the intensive engagement of the arches’ designers with the challenges of modernity and modernism. The talk will present these arches and discuss Italy’s complex—and fraught—relationship to both its classical past and its short-lived colonial present in the twentieth century.