The Italian Presence in Post-war America, 1949-1972: Architecture, Design, Fashion

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Call for Papers
November 15, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Architecture and Architectural History, Atlantic History / Studies, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Urban History / Studies

International Conference

Politecnico di Milano, 4-5-6 April 2022

Convener: DAStU-Department of Architecture and Urban Studies, in the framework of the research project Transatlantic Transfers: The Italian presence in post-war America 1949-1972 (PRIN 2017)


The relationship between Italy and the United States has often been considered through the lenses of the Americanization of Italian culture. Reversing this perspective, the conference intends to investigate at the scale of architecture, design and fashion the presence of Italian design in American culture since the end of Second World War, considering the involvement of professional milieus as well as the implications at the level of popular perception. The event’s objective is to explore the trajectories, the processes of transfer, the circulation of people, discourses, ideas, or design models in the framework of the cultural, political and economic exchanges that took place across the Atlantic.

The conference invites contributions unveiling the cultural complexity of the transatlantic transfer during a period ranging from 1949 (the date of the inauguration of the exhibition XX Century Italian Art at the Museum of Modern Art in New York) to 1972 (when the show Italy: The new domestic landscape opened at the same institution); in addition to this, it aims at identifying the occasions and the vectors that made the transfer possible. Examples of vectors might include individuals (such as industrialists, artists, architects and designers, writers, publishers, translators, critics, art collectors), institutions (universities, government bodies, cultural foundations), business ventures, events (conferences and exhibitions), media outlets, and artifacts of different scale (objects of design or fashion, buildings, interventions in the built environment).

Proposals from fields as diverse as architectural history, design history, history of art and photography, material culture, and consumption studies are welcome.

Interested participants must send a 500-word abstract, accompanied by five keywords and a one-page Curriculum Vitae.

The research project “Transatlantic Transfers: The Italian Presence in post-war America 1949-1972” focuses on the mechanisms that led to the definition of an Italian cultural identity in the United States in the years following the Second World War. The research adopts a transnational perspective and a multidisciplinary approach encompassing the studies of production of knowledge, international relations and politics, material culture, publishing industry, visual arts, literature, architecture, design, cinema, music and food culture. The project’s founding assumption is that the unprecedent wave of intellectual, economic and productive creativity that characterized postwar Italian culture had a noteworthy impact on America’s life and, in particular, on its emerging middle class’s material and cultural consumption habits.

Key Dates

Deadline for submission of abstracts: November 15, 2021

Notification of acceptance: December 15, 2021

Deadline for papers: March 15, 2022