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This article focuses on Fascist artist Mario Sironi’s urban landscapes as a site of modernity and its contradictions. With their gloomy buildings and deserted streets, Sironi’s landscapes highlight two of modernity's woes: The periferia of the “liberal” city and the fear for its inhabitants’ degeneration and sterility. In his “Il discorso dell’Ascensione,” Mussolini openly accuses industrial urbanism of its sterilizing effect on the Italian race, thus, jeopardizing his imperial ambitions. By giving an aesthetic form to the Regime’s fears, Sironi reaches two goals: The aestheticization of fascist politics, as described by Walter Benjamin, and the creation of the Soreal social myth that would ultimately propel Italians toward the resolution of their presumed problems. Moreover, the article suggests a reading of Sironi’s murals as an integral part of the urban landscapes’ reading and interpretation. The murals’ fascist imperial rhetoric would lose its referent should the Italian race succumb to physical degeneration and sterility.


Accepted version. Forum Italicum, Vol. 55, No. 1 (May 2021): 185-203. DOI. © 2021 SAGE Publications. Used with permission.

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