Reality as Legend

Painting Between the Wars

A Symposium on Realismo Magico

November 23, 2018

Museum Folkwang will be hosting a large exhibition entitled Unheimlich real – Italienische Malerei der 1920er Jahre in autumn 2018 and will thus be presenting a fascinating 20th century artistic movement to the broader German public for the first time, namely Realismo Magico (Magic Realism). It developed in Italy parallel to New Objectivity in Germany as of about 1916 and formed a new style through to the beginning of the Second World War. Geographically, its centre was in Milan, its main proponents Felice Casorati, Giorgio de Chirico, Antonio Donghi, Carlo Carrà and Cagnaccio di San Pietro.
On the occasion of the exhibition at Museum Folkwang, the symposium Reality as Legend addresses themes and aspects of Magic Realism (Realismo Magico), outlining the current state of scholarly research and expanding it. The conference will build on the trailblazing research of the 1980s and 1990s, which primarily focused on Magic Realism in relation to German Verism and New Objectivity. In their lectures and open discussions the scholars invited will present the latest research and rethink the art historical categorizations in light of what we know today.

Among other things, the symposium will focus on issues of how the term Realismo Magico should be defined and what constitutes the style. Moreover, aspects of its political and historical roots in the climate of Italian Fascism, of the magic-real image, its self-referentiality as an aesthetic genre, its medium and its reception will be discussed. While Realismo Magico petered out at the beginning of the Second World War and thereafter dwindled in significance, research since the 1980s and prompted by key exhibitions (among others at Centre Pompidou, Les Réalismes – entre Révolution et Réaction, 1980-81) has since increased, although generally the current has been considered in the wake of New Objectivity. During the symposium, international experts will shed light on the precise stylistic and historical developments that engendered Magical Realism in Italy and explore its independence and specific qualities as a movement.

Dr. Robert Thomas Cozzolino, Minneapolis Institute of Art
Prof. Dr. Olaf Peters, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Prof. Dr. Elena Pontiggia, Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera
Prof. Dr. Michael Scheffel, Bergische Universität Wuppertal
Dr. Paola Valenti, Università degli Studi di Genova

Registration: from 12 pm
Start: 1.15 pm

Please find the current programme here...

Conference languages: German/English/Italian/French (with interpreters)
Participation free of charge. Limited number of partipicants.
Registration: until 14 November 2018 at

Kindly supported by


Cesare Sofianopulo
Maschere, 1930
Museo Revoltella, © Nicola Eccher