Sometimes I think we live in an art gallery. For friends and acquaintances who’ve spent time in our homes over the years, that’s not too far from the truth. Jennifer and I have collected political posters and paintings since our teens. We’ve always tried to find as much wall space for them as we could. Constructivist repros from the USSR, Jen’s own paintings, Spanish-language USAID propaganda from the ’60s. We’ve hung it all.
Perhaps the greatest frustration we have with our new apartment is that we are prohibited from putting anything on the walls. Covered by a combination of shelves, mirrors, and furniture, it is more than likely that we’ll keep nearly all of our art in storage for the next couple of years. In the interim, we have an entire lobby full of hilarious reproductions like this painting of Napoleon, above, to look at, every time we enter our building.
One of fifteen or so vintage reproductions typically on display in the hallway, this painting does a good job of interfacing with the martial-looking marble of our Mussolini-era apartment building. Italian Bauhaus, for lack of a better way of describing it, the place is a veritable monument to a time in this country’s history when art like this was appreciated. Not just for its kitsch value, but the values its supposed to embody.
That’s why the anti-racist posters we frequently find pasted to the outside of our building, like this advert for a Communist-sponsored cultural event, are always a kick in the pants to see after indulging the nostalgia inside. Not neccessarily the most interesting in terms of design, their combination of contemporary aesthetic sensibilities with leftist politics nonetheless completes the overall artistic experience of our new European home.