Public Program

Symposium on Italian Drawings from the Twentieth Century: Keynote Lecture by Professor Emily Braun

Keynote Lecture by Professor Emily Braun

Visionary Line: The Drawings of Adolfo Wildt

Often referred to as a Symbolist artist, the sculptor Adolfo Wildt (1868–1931) occupies a singular position in the history of 20th-century Italian art. His style defies categorization, as does the work of his most famous students, Lucio Fontana and Fausto Melotti. Emily Braun looks at how Wildt exploited drawing as a medium of visionary experience, both for the artist and the viewer. In the emaciated line of his pencil drawings, as well as in his crepuscular charcoal compositions, Wildt relied on specific graphic qualities to represent bodies in ecstasy, suffering, and trance-like states. His exacting techniques of outline drawing and sfumatura are visibly obsessive in their rendering. Though Wildt’s drawings may also be seen in relationship to his carved figures and bas-reliefs, they exist as an autonomous and original corpus of work.

Braun’s keynote lecture opens a three-day online symposium on modern Italian drawings organized in conjunction with the exhibition, Silent Revolutions: Italian Drawings from the Twentieth Century, on view at the Menil Drawing Institute through April 11, 2021. This symposium is conceived by Edouard Kopp, John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation Chief Curator, Menil Drawing Institute; Irina Zucca Alessandrelli, Curator, Collezione Ramo, Milan; and Saskia Verlaan, Menil Drawing Institute Pre-Doctoral Fellow.

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About the speaker:

The scholarship of Emily Braun, Distinguished Professor at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY, bridges the academy and the museum. Braun’s extensive writings on Italian Modernism and Fascist culture include her landmark book entitled Mario Sironi and Italian Modernism: Art and Politics under Fascism (Cambridge University Press, 2000), her edited volume De Chirico and America (1995), and articles on the Futurists, Giorgio Morandi, Giorgio de Chirico, Lucio Fontana, Arturo Martini, and Magic Realism. In 2015, Braun organized the exhibition Alberto Burri: The Trauma of Painting for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, which received the annual Dedalus Foundation Exhibition Catalogue Award. She has co-curated two exhibitions for the Jewish Museum, New York: The Power of Conversation: Jewish Women and their Salons (2005; National Jewish Book Award) and Gardens and Ghettos: The Art of Jewish Life in Italy (1989; winner of the Henry Allen Moe Prize). An expert on Cubism, Braun has curated the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection since 1987 and worked with Mr. Lauder on his transformative gift of the collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2014, with Rebecca Rabinow, she co-organized the Lauder Collection exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum; the catalogue received the Award for Excellence from the American Association of Museum Curators and the Henry Allen Moe Prize. Her research has been supported by fellowships from the Getty Foundation and the New York Public Library Center for Scholars and Writers. In Spring 2020, Braun served as the Edmond J. Safra Visiting Professor at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA) at the National Gallery in Washington, DC.