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Ragghianti, Carlo Ludovico

    Full Name: Ragghianti, Carlo Ludovico

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1910

    Date Died: 1987

    Place Born: Lucca, Tuscany, Italy

    Place Died: Florence, Tuscany, Italy

    Home Country/ies: Italy

    Subject Area(s): architecture (object genre), film (discipline), photographs, and sculpture (visual works)

    Career(s): art critics


    Art and architectural historian and critic, pioneer in the use of film as a tool of art history. Ragghianti’s parents were Francesco Ragghianti Francesco, a surveyor, eventually (and automatically under fascist law) promoted to architect, and and Maria Cesari Ragghianti. Carlo Ragghianti attended the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa between 1928 and 1931, recently taken over by the fascist philosopher Giovanni Gentile (1875-1944) who had been appointed to transform secondary school education. There, Ragghianti found like-minded friends such as future philosopher and educator Aldo Capitini (1899-1968). Gentile’s elevation to school director apparently caused rifts between the already anti-fascist Ragghianti. Ragghianti was dismissed from the school in 1931. He then studied at the university in Pisa under Matteo Marangoni. His dissertation written under Maragoni, was on the Baroque in art. Part of his thesis was published in the journal La Cultura under the title “Cultura artistica e arte barocca” in 1932. In 1933, the philosopher and art writer Benedetto Croce urged Ragghianti to publish further portions of the thesis in Croce’s journal La Critica under the title “I Carracci e la critica d’arte nell’eta Barocca.” In 1935, Ragghianti and the classicist art historian Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli founded the journal Critica d’Arte which, unlike other art journals, was open to all areas of art history, classical to modern. Important contributors to the journal included Roberto Longhi. Critica d’Arte became the model for other Italian art magazines, most notably Prospettiva, founded by Giovanni Previtali and Mauro Cristofani (1941-1997). Ragghianti joined the faculty at Pisa where he taught until 1972. During World War II, he was part of the Resistenza against fascism, helping found the second incarnation of the Partito d’Azione (after Mazzini’s history 19th-century movement). Under the direction of the Ragionamenti sopra le invenzioni da lui dipinte, he published an edition of Lives of the Artists by Giorgio Vasari beginning in 1942. In 1943 he organized armed resistance in Tuscany. Ragghianti was elected president of the Tuscan Comitato di Liberazione Nazionale (National Liberation Committee) or CLN and headed the provisional government that liberated Florence in 1944. After the war he was nominated undersecretary for the arts and theatre during the government of prime minister Ferruccio Parri (1890-1981). As a government arts administrator, he addressed university reform, pedagogy and protection of cultural artifacts. In 1946 his Commenti di critica d’arte (Comments on Art Criticism), a book on methodology and art theory, appeared as well as a book on Impressionism. Ragghianti founded the l’Istituto di Storia dell’Arte at the University in 1950, today the Dipartimento di Storia delle Arti (department of Art History). Beginning in 1952 he edited, with his wife Licia Collobi, seleARTE, underwritten by the industrialist Adriano Oivetti (1901-1960). At its height, the quarterly boasted a circulation of 55,000. The journal also spun off small films, which Ragghianti called Critofilms, beginning with the 1948 La deposizione di Raffaello. Between 1954 and 1963 Ragghianti shot 18 of his critofilms. His Profilo della critica d’arte in Italia (A Profile of Art Criticism in Italy) appeared two years later. A monograph, Mondrian e l’arte del XX secolo was published in 1963. His final Critofilm, Michelangiolo was issued in 1964. In 1967 he published a survey, Arte in Italia. Ragghianti was a supporter of the Raccolta nazionale di Disegni e Stampe (National Collection of Drawings and Prints) at the University of Pisa and the conservation institute, L’Università Internazionale dell’Arte (U.I.A.) (International University of Art) in Florence from its founding in 1969. His essays were collected as Arti della visione (Arts of Vision) beginning in 1975. In 1980, he and his wife established the Licia and Carlo L. Ragghianti Foundation and Study Centre on Art. The center comprises his library and photo collection. As minister for the arts, Ragghianti was instrumental in the introduction of the teaching of history and criticism of cinema in Italian universities. He was deeply influenced by the esthetics of Croce, particularly Croce’s theory of “pure visibility.” His dissertatin and later essay, “I Carracci e la critica d’arte nell’età barocca” (The Carraccis and Art Criticism in the Baroque age), employed Croce’s approach toward poetry and prose on the arts. He also incorporated the work of other estheticians such as Konrad Fiedler, as well as the Vienna-School art historians Aloïs Riegl and Julius Alwin von Schlosser. Criticism, Ragghianti insisted, could be expressed in pictorial form through a visual tool. Ragghianti argued that cinema should be studied with the same tools as art history. For all this, Ragghianti was a conservative and dispaired the 20th-century abstraction of Cubism and others for the modeling of his countryman, Giancomo Manzu. Hand-written annotations about Ragghianti’s opinions on Giotto appear in the personal copy of the 1937 Mostra Giottesca catalog of Richard Offner.

    Selected Bibliography

    [complete bibliography:] Leoni Zanobini, Maria Teresa. Carlo L. Ragghianti, bibliografia degli scritti, 1928-1990. Florence: Centro editoriale Università internazionale dell’arte, 1990; [collected essays:] Arti della visione. 3 vols. Turin: G. Einaudi, 1975-1979; [dissertation:]Introduzione a una storia artistica dell’età barocca. Pisa, 1932; “La giovinezza e lo svolgimento artistico di Domenico Ghirlandaio: problemi critici [part I].” L’Arte 6 (May 1935):166-198; [part II] L’Arte 6 (September 1935): 341-73; Profilo della critica d’arte in Italia. Florence: Edizioni U, 1948; “La Crosera di piazza di Carlo Scarpa.” Zodiac 4 (1959): 128-47, 199-202, and 206-8; edited, Vasari, Giorgio. Le vite dei più eccellenti pittori, scultori e architetti. 4 vols. Milan: Rizzoli, 1942-1949; Diario critico; capitoli e incontri di estetica, critica, linguistica. Venezia, N. Pozza, 1957; and Licia Ragghianti Collobi. National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City. New York: Newsweek,1970; Filippo Brunelleschi: un uomo, un universo. Florence: Vallecchi, 1977.


    Ladis, Andrew. “The Unmaking of a Connoisseur.” in, Offner, Richard. A Discerning Eye: Essays on Early Italian Painting. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998, p,19, note 1; Leoni Zanobini, Maria Teresa. Carlo L. Ragghianti, bibliografia degli scritti, 1928-1990. Florence: Centro editoriale Università internazionale dell’arte, 1990; Costa, Antonio. Carlo L. Ragghianti: i critofilm d’arte. Udine: Campanotto, 1995; Scotini, Marco. Carlo Ludovico Ragghianti: e il carattere cinematografico della visione = and the Cinematic Nature of Vision. Milan: Charta, 2000; “Biography” Fondazione Ragghianti [website]; [personal correspondence Monica Naldi, November, 2009].


    "Ragghianti, Carlo Ludovico." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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