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  • Una dolce vita?
    Una dolce vita?
    Dal Liberty al design italiano. 1900-1940
    Roma - Exhibitions, from 16/10/15 to 17/01/16
  • Palazzo delle Esposizioni
    Una dolce vita?
    Dal Liberty al design italiano. 1900-1940
    Palazzo delle Esposizioni, from 16/10/15 to 17/01/16

Una dolce vita? Dal Liberty al design italiano. 1900-1940



The exhibition is organized by the Azienda Speciale Palaexpo in collaboration with the Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Heirs to a great tradition in art and craftsmanship, the decorative arts in early 20th century Italy reflected the people's desire to see the march of progress in a country that had only recently been united. Cabinet makers, potters and master glaziers often worked hand in hand with the leading artists of the day, eventually producing a fully-fledged "Italian style" which was to have a major impact on the birth of modern design. This was a time of "paradoxical optimism", of intense creativity against the backdrop of a society experiencing deep and far-reaching changes, initially fuelled by the hopes aroused by the Giolitti government but soon forced to suffer the trauma of the Great War and the resulting tragedy of Mussolini's Fascist Regime

In exploring this era, the exhibition follows a chronological path consisting of over a hundred exhibits in a constant interplay between the decorative and the plastic arts. The early 20th century saw the triumph of Art Nouveau, which was to become known in Italy as the "Liberty style" or "floral style". Following the International Exhibition of Decorative Arts in Turin in 1902, the Liberty style gradually began to take on an idiosyncratic personality of its own in the work of such artists as Carlo Bugatti, Galileo Chini, Eugenio Quarti, Ernesto Basile and Carlo Zen. Their propensity for curving lines inspired by the forms of nature, with an occasionally exotic undertone, is linked to the work of the Divisionist painters, who were close to the Symbolist trend common to the whole of Europe and whose style is represented in the exhibition by the work of such painters as Previati, Segantini, Morbelli and Pellizza da Volpedo.

The Liberty style, which became the chosen style of the rising middle class, was soon forced to reckon with Futurism and its loathing for the past. This avant-garde movement, which first sprang from the fertile imagination of Tommaso Marinetti in 1909, was only to spread to the realm of the decorative arts after the Great War, during the so-called "Second Futurist" phase. In 1915, Giacomo Balla and Fortunato Depero penned a manifesto entitled "The Futurist Reconstruction of the Universe", in which they announced their intention to extend the Futurist aesthetic to every aspect of art and life. These two artists, who claimed to want to rebuild the entire universe in order "to make it a joyful place", were to produce countless items of decorative art and everyday use, ranging from furniture and clothing to tapestries and toys.

During the years of the "Return to Order" - which followed the avant-garde season throughout Europe - the rediscovery of Classical culture developed along a number of different paths in the realm of the plastic and decorative arts in Italy. The most interesting developments included the Metaphysical Art of De Chirico and Savinio, and the Magical Realism trend whose greatest exponent was Felice Casorati. Similarly, the ceramics of Giò Ponti and the initial creations of Carlo Scarpa in glass were imbued with an echanted vision suspended between the Classical style and a taste for Art Déco. In the fields of architecture and interior decoration, the monumental style favoured by Giovanni Muzio and Piero Portaluppi reflected the return to Classicism celebrated by the "Novecento", a movement sponsored by Margherita Sarfatti that was fated to become the style officially adopted by the Fascist Regime. 

In those early years, however, the regime also proved capable of opening up to the modernist experimentation of such architects as Giuseppe Terragni and Mario Radice (the designers of the famous Casa del Fascio in Como), whose work shares an affinity with the Abstract art of Fontana, Melotti and Licini. And lastly, in the realm of the applied arts, the Rationalist style, reflecting the European inclinations of such artists as Albini, Baldessari, Figini and Pollini, marked the transition towards industrial production and design as we understand it today.



locker room
coffe shop
accessible site


  • The Site reopens to visitors on April 27 for the DL 52 of April 22, 2021
    Online booking required for Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.

from October 30, 2020 until July 18, 2021
curated by Sarah Cosulich and Stefano Collicelli Cagol

Discover the security and safe measures here 

Info and booking

Individuals and groups
Tel. +39 06 39967500


Tel. +39 06 39967200

from monday to friday 9.00 am - 6.00 pm
on Saturday 9.00 am - 2.00 pm

Una dolce vita?
Dal Liberty al design italiano. 1900-1940



Ticket Office

Admission ticket
  • - Full € 12.50
  • - Reduced € 10
Other Reduced
  • reduced price ages 7/18 € 6.00
    schools € 4.00 each student
    Admission to exhibitions at the Scuderie del Quirinale and at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni for students, researchers and undergraduates registered with public or private universities in Rome costs € 4.00 on Fridays and Saturdays, after 7.00 pm until the box office closes.
    First Wednesday of the month
    Thanks to Lottomatica free entry for under 30 on the first Wednesday of the month from 2:00pm to 7:00pm
    The entrance is free for single visitors only. It is not available for groups.

    Reduced price for:
    - young people under 26
    - senior citizens over 65
    - teachers
    - groups who book in advance (minimum 10  - maximum 25 people) from Tuesday to Friday
    - groups with special concessions
    - forces of law and order and the military on producing an ID
    - journalists with regular license of the National Order (professionals, practitioners, journalists) special price € 7,00
     Free admission for:
    - children under 6
    - 1 person accompanying each booked group
    - 1 person accompanying every 10 students
    - disabled (free admission for the person accompanying them)
    - Regione Lazio tourist guides
    - Regione Lazio tourist escorts
    - interpreters accompanying the guides- ICOM and ICROM card holders

  • Guided tour (min 10 - max 25 pax)

    € 100,00 one exhibition | € 165,00 two exhibitions

    in Italian, English, French, Germany, Spanish

    Reservation required tel. +39 06 39967500.

  • Guided tour (min 10 - max 25 pax) 

    € 80,00 one exhibition | € 130,00 two exhibitions

    in Italian, English, French, Germany, Spanish

    Reservation required tel. +39 06 39967200

Reservation Fee
  • Individuals: € 2.00, suggested

    Groups: € 30.00 (max 25 pax), required

    Schools: € 20.00 (max 25 pax), required

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