Journalist, critic and promoter of Italian art between the wars, Margherita Sarfatti (1880 - 1961) was a shining light on the international panorama of the 20th century on account of her culture, talent and ambition. Her birth into a wealthy Jewish family, her education with illustrious tutors and her strong personality all shaped the figure of a cultured and passionate, but also complex and controversial woman. A friend to intellectuals and artists, a socialist and then a supporter of the Fascist régime, she associated herself with the Novecento Italiano group, the initial formation of which she oversaw and which she promoted with tenacity from 1924 onwards, going beyond the national confines. Those were the years of the Return to Order and the recovery of the artistic tradition, which Sarfatti interpreted, coining the famous definition of “modern classicism”.
From her youthful emergence to the events following WWII, the exhibition at the Mart sheds light on Sarfatti’s ambitious programme of cultural expansion, with particular attention devoted to the exhibitions organized in France, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Argentina and Uruguay. The story is structured around the main episodes that marked Sarfatti’s life: her initial contacts with the lively Milanese artistic scene, her popularity as a writer and critic, her relationship with Benito Mussolini and the role she took on in the propaganda of Fascist ideology, her break with the centres of power, her escape abroad following the Racial Laws and her return to Italy after the war. The events of her life are documented using the materials of the precious Sarfatti Fund, which arrived in Rovereto in 2009 and is conserved in the Mart’s Archivio del ‘900.
Organized into six themed sections, the exhibition presents a hundred masterpieces by thirty great masters, such as Boccioni, Bucci, Carrà, Casorati, De Chirico, Dudreville, Funi, Malerba, Marussig, Morandi, Oppi, Rosso, Severini, Sironi, Wildt.
The exhibition in Rovereto is the result of a unitary project jointly run by the Mart and Museo del Novecento in Milan, with a single catalogue published by Electa. The two exhibitions, which are both autonomous and complementary, enable visitors to analyze the complex personality of Sarfatti, with insights into the art of the 1920s in Milan and a perspective on Margherita’s role as an ambassadress of Italian art in the world.