Fascism used art and styling to promote its ends.
Fascist propaganda eagerly embraced new technology such as cinema and radio and used the visual means of spectacle, exhibitions, architecture and public art and street decoration which permeated all walks of life. Fascism fashioned a compelling visual experience drawing on:
In Italy Modernism is mainly associated with the movement known as Futurism which celebrated speed, machinery, violence, war, innovation, excitement. In the 1920s a popular style of painting was known as Aeropittura.
This style glorified everyday life and humble activities on the land or in the factory. There was an emphasis on family values and the traditional role of women - all of these in the service of the regime. Images of people tended to be depersonalized and heroic.
This style drew on the ‘glorious past' of classical Rome and the Renaissance to create a sense of continuity uninterrupted through to Fascist Italy. It inspired the prospect of a modern Roman or Italian empire.
Some particular examples of these visual tendencies can be seen in the following:
1. Cult of the Duce
The leader is built up to become an iconic figure as hero or superman. His representations become stylized, simplified, modern and dynamic – sometimes even phallic. Often he is surrounded by the crowd suggesting mass support, politically the individual disappears and becomes submerged in the power of the many.
2. Popular images such as the Fasces - the Roman symbol of strength through unity - rods bound together; one rod is fragile but a bundle is strong.
3. Public Art including street decoration and wall texts such as ‘Believe, Obey, Fight' - (Credere, Obbedire, Combattere).
4. Architecture – grand and overwhelming with echoes of ancient Rome but much simpler and less decorated - classicism transposed in a modern key.
5. Statues and sculpture echo classical figures but are more stylized and simplified and usually heroic.
6. Exhibitions that create an overwhelming total experience. The individual is small in vast halls or spaces decorated with texts, pennons or grandiose imagery. The materials and the design look modern: shiny surfaces; geometric structures; modern letter fonts for the text; forceful, heroic imagery.
7. Posters often use dramatic photography or abstract designs to create dynamic images using strong diagonals, taking a low viewpoint looking up or a high viewpoint looking down.