Form and Fascism

Though many writers, film-makers and other artists found it difficult to work in Fascist Italy, modernist architecture flourished under the less than watchful gaze of Mussolini. Jonathan Meades wonders why.

The Palazzo della Civia Italiana, part of the EUR complex in Rome and now home to the fashion house FendiIt is a commonplace that the dictatorships of the 20th century existed in aesthetic isolation. This is a fabrication of both the democracies which opposed the most murderous regimes mankind has yet devised and of the countries that suffered the retrospective shame of having succumbed to those regimes. Everyone is anxious to avoid the taint of having shared the idioms or forms which supposedly characterised those regimes and those regimes alone. 

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