Attempting a historiographical definition of the identity of Jewish architecture in general or in a specific place and time – the Italian 20th century, for example – most likely means establishing a topic that is too broad, and that, while intuitive, remains too complex to identify each time you try to circumscribe it with greater precision. While there is an evident possibility of recognising in some typical events and places – the synagogue, the ghetto, the cemetery or some cities – an existence or a specificity, and therefore the consequent possibility of a historiographical delineation of a subject matter, once we move away from these any attempt at a sufficiently stable, lasting, precise and articulated definition of what the identity of Jewish architecture in general can be becomes immediately elusive. The search for a peculiar architectural identity – similar studies have been conducted in other fields of culture, from literature to music, painting and cinema, where a Jewish declination is recognised – or its interpretation in a political and identity key, is conceivable considering some thematic recurrences or ideal affinities and the extensive presence of authors of Jewish culture in the central places of the debate on modernity. However, it is perhaps impossible to identify a Jewish architectural identity expressed and shared in a sufficiently organic way by the authors themselves, and such as to identify the various traits of their architectural works. Even though such general and even ineffable categories will rarely be directly argued by the protagonists of Italian architectural culture, their contribution can be glimpsed in many of their statements: in the debate between the two wars and before racial laws permeated by the desire for assimilation of Jews within Italian culture, and then, after the Shoah in Italy aft er the war, with the construction of a specifically Jewish architectural identity, among whose promoters Bruno Zevi played a leading role, based on a qualifying «diversity».

«Assimilation» or «Diversity» of Jewish Architects and Jewish Architecture in Italy during the 20th Century. Notes on the Debate and the Reflection of Bruno Zevi

Matteo Cassani Simonetti
2021

Abstract

Attempting a historiographical definition of the identity of Jewish architecture in general or in a specific place and time – the Italian 20th century, for example – most likely means establishing a topic that is too broad, and that, while intuitive, remains too complex to identify each time you try to circumscribe it with greater precision. While there is an evident possibility of recognising in some typical events and places – the synagogue, the ghetto, the cemetery or some cities – an existence or a specificity, and therefore the consequent possibility of a historiographical delineation of a subject matter, once we move away from these any attempt at a sufficiently stable, lasting, precise and articulated definition of what the identity of Jewish architecture in general can be becomes immediately elusive. The search for a peculiar architectural identity – similar studies have been conducted in other fields of culture, from literature to music, painting and cinema, where a Jewish declination is recognised – or its interpretation in a political and identity key, is conceivable considering some thematic recurrences or ideal affinities and the extensive presence of authors of Jewish culture in the central places of the debate on modernity. However, it is perhaps impossible to identify a Jewish architectural identity expressed and shared in a sufficiently organic way by the authors themselves, and such as to identify the various traits of their architectural works. Even though such general and even ineffable categories will rarely be directly argued by the protagonists of Italian architectural culture, their contribution can be glimpsed in many of their statements: in the debate between the two wars and before racial laws permeated by the desire for assimilation of Jews within Italian culture, and then, after the Shoah in Italy aft er the war, with the construction of a specifically Jewish architectural identity, among whose promoters Bruno Zevi played a leading role, based on a qualifying «diversity».
Bruno Zevi. History, Criticism and Architecture after World War II
37
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Matteo Cassani Simonetti
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/838728
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