PRINT November 1990


IN EARLY AUGUST I had to accompany a large painting by Pellizza da Volpedo, entitled Fiumana (Crowd, 1895), from the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan to the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin, where it was included in a historical show dedicated to Bismarck. In these days of German unification—and here Berlin reunification—it was perhaps ironic that Bismarck, who first unified Germany and mollified the proletariat through a series of social reforms as well, was the cause of my trip. Fiumana is the first version of Pellizza’s most famous work, Il Quarto Stato (The fourth estate, 1901), which became in Italy, but also, I think, in other parts of Europe, a symbol of social utopia. In this work, the artist represented the proletariat on the march toward its own emancipation. When I asked the curator of the Bismarck exhibition why she had chosen a work of Italian art, she answered that this piece had

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