Poet, novelist, and war hero, Gabriele d’Annunzio was a central figure in the Italian cultural and political life of the early 20th century. A new exhibition, “Gabriele d’Annunzio: Living Life as a Work of Art,” provides a striking glimpse into the life of an artist who helped create a sense of Italian national identity and whose relationship with fascism is still at the center of many debates. The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, is on view at NYU’s Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, 24 West 12th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues), Mon. to Fri. from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through December 15, 2010. For more information, visit http://www.casaitaliananyu.org/.
Between 1921 and 1938, the year of his death, d’Annunzio lived in and developed the “Vittoriale degli italiani”, a hillside estate in the town of Gardone Riviera overlooking the Garda Lake in Lombardy, Italy. At great expense, d’Annunzio furnished the estate as only a man of his intellectual stardom and aesthetic audacity would dare.
Bringing together nearly 30 artworks and personal items from the Vittoriale, the exhibition offers a window into d’Annunzio’s elegant lifestyle and luxurious tastes. A lover of fine artwork and clothing, and a connoisseur of fine craftsmanship, d’Annunzio is today celebrated as a remarkable dandy.
The exhibition, curated by Giordano Bruno Guerri, president of the Vittoriale Foundation, features many objets d’art that adorned the Vittoriale, including a marble bust of actress Eleonor Duse, his long-time lover; handcrafted sculptures of d’Annunzio’s beloved greyhounds; war memorabilia, such as a model airplane, that recalls d’Annunzio’s days as a pilot in WWI; and whimsical silver tabletop decorations that d’Annunzio would often design to his own specification.
In addition, graphic wall panels depict the timeline of d’Annunzio’s life, beginning with his birth in Pescara in 1863. With archival photos, the timeline tells the story of d’Annunzio’s early literary success; his marriage to Maria Hardouin and his subsequent love affairs; his experience as a pilot in WWI; his year-long military attempt to claim the town of Fiume (present-day Rijeka in Croatia) for Italy (which some historians claim later inspired Mussolini’s fascism); to his final years amassing his grand collection at Vittoriale.