139. Photographing Futurism Art at the Stadio dei Marmi

Updated: Mar 24

By Giulio D'Ercole


Fascism and Art in Italy

At the beginning of the last century, Italy was very culturally active, especially embracing new art forms such as Futurism, which celebrated the dynamism of the modern era.

Italian Fascist dictator Mussolini was fascinated by these ideas, which promoted the birth of a new sort of "Superman" at the service of the State, and he tried to combine this futuristic vision with the conservative rhetoric of Rome's imperial past. This “philosophy” was then utilized in several art and architecture projects born during fascism. Three of the most important ones are the building of Via dei Fori Imperiali, connecting Piazza Venezia to the Colosseum, the EUR district, a Rome satellite neighborhood that should have made the Eternal City closer to the Ocean, and the complex of the Foro Italico (initially called in fact, Foro Mussolini).

The latter was designed as a logical continuation of the Fascist Academy of Physical Education (now Palazzo CONI, Italian Olympic Committee).


The amazing Stadio dei Marmi

In these terms, Stadio dei Marmi (Stadium of the Marbles) is a sports stadium inside Foro Italico. It was designed in the 1920s to be used by its students for training by Enrico Del Debbio, and its construction was completed in 1928.

The photo here below portrays one of the 59 statues made in Carrara marble. They are lined up around the upper rim of the stadium, representing, in a strong and stern classical style, athletes performing various sporting disciplines. Each statue was offered by the provinces of Italy.

The artists chosen for the design of the stadium would also have had to oversee, for a fee of 10,000 lire, the subsequent stages of processing. The project provided that, due to its own characteristics, it was possible to use it only for gymnastic-sporting events and not for football, for which the Olympic stadium in Rome was built. Its capacity is around 5,280 seats.

The stadium was inaugurated in 1932. It hosted some of the field hockey preliminaries for the 1960 Summer Olympics.


Pietro Mennea and Short Sprint Racing

From 12 September 2013, next to its original name, the Stadium goes also under the name Pietro Mennea, the Italian sprinter who held the world record for 17 years on the 200 flat meters. His time in fact held from 1979 up to 1996, when American runner Michael Johnson conquered the title recording 19”66, versus Pietro Mennea’s 19”72.

The Stadium of the Marbles is a splendid location for a photoshoot focusing on architecture, therefore it is a terrific choice for the alternative "Your Tailored Made Photo Tour and Workshop" offered by Rome Photo Fun Tours.

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All photographs by Giulio D'Ercole.

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