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Publications / The Great Mother / Overview

Through the work by 127 international artists, The Great Mother analyzes the iconography of motherhood in the art and visual culture of the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries, from early avant-garde movements to the present. Whether as a symbol of creativity or as a metaphor for art itself, the archetype of the mother has been a central figure in the history of art, from the Venuses of the Stone Age to the “bad girls” of the postfeminist era. The more familiar version of “Mamma” has also become a stereotype closely tied to the image of Italy.

Published on the occasion of the major exhibition curated by Massimiliano Gioni (artistic director of the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milan, and of the New Museum, New York), promoted by the Cultural Office of the City of Milan, conceived and produced by the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi in partnership with Palazzo Reale for Expo in Città 2015, the volume is devoted to women’s power: in undertaking an analysis of the representation of motherhood.

The Great Mother traces a history of women’s empowerment, chronicling gender struggles, sexual politics, and clashes between tradition and emancipation through the work of some of the leading masters of the twentieth century, among which Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Umberto Boccioni, Louise Bourgeois, Frida Kahlo.

In the volume, edited by Massimiliano Gioni and RobertaTenconi, the forewords by Giuliano Pisapia, Filippo Del Corno, Domenico Piraina and the introduction by Beatrice Trussardi are followed by contributions by Massimiliano Gioni (The Great Mother), Lucia Re (Mater–Materia), Adrien Sina (Valentine de Saint-Point), Ruth Hemus (Daughters Born withoutMothers), CalvinTomkins (Our Lady of Desire), Whitney Chadwick (Gifts of Women), Guido Tintori (In the Name of the Motherland), Matteo Pavesi (Mother Scenes), Marco Belpoliti (The Mythography of the Mother), Raffaella Perna (The Power of the Second Sex), Pietro Rigolo (Harald Szeemann’s La Mamma), Lea Vergine (The Other Half of the Avant- Garde), Barbara Casavecchia (The Imitation Game).
The catalogue is concluded by monographic texts on key figures and themes and exhibition checklist. 


2015, Skira / Fondazione Nicola Trussardi
English and Italian editions
21 x 28 cm, 400 pages, 277 colour illustrations, paperback
ISBN 978-88-572-2956-0 I, -2860-0 E