In The Patron State: Culture and Politics in Fascist Italy, Maria Susan Stone discusses the cultural policy-making under Mussolini’s regime in Italy from 1922 to 1943. Specifically, she has provided a detailed study of two of the most popular showpieces of public culture during the fascist regime: the reconstituted Venice Biennale and the 1932 Exhibition of the Fascist Revolution. Stone asserts that the cultural politics that happened during the fascist regime in Italy was developed in three stages.
The first stage (from 1925-30) was when the Fascists worked with the established institutions of high culture. It was during this stage that the regime discovered that it could not officially sanction any one style or movement. Stone also described this stage as the time when the Fascists dealt with the social elites. The second stage (from 1931-36) was the period when they used patronage and experimentation in an effort to shape cultural institutions according to their specifications.
This is also the period when the Fascists increasingly gained support from the mass. They achieved this by moving away from supporting traditional events aimed for social elites and supporting events aimed at the masses instead. And finally, the third stage (from 1937-43), was when they adopted a more coercive set of methods. Through flexible policy of taste and patronage, the Fascists were able to win the consent of artists and draw supporters from the higher class to the masses.
The role and use of mass culture during the Fascist regime have always fascinated historians for the past thirty years. Stone had added to the vast researches by other prominent historians such as Walter Adamson, Philip Cannistraro, and Umberto Silva on the same topic but on a new perspective.
Stone, Maria Susan. The Patron State: Culture and Politics in Fascist Italy. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1998
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