This analysis of the First Exhibition of Italian Soldier Artists of 1942 reveals the Italian Fascist conception of the role of the fi ne arts in the mobilization for war. The exhibition, held fi rst in Rome and then displayed throughout Axis-occupied Europe, introduced the fi gure of the «soldier-artist». For the exhibition’s organizers, the paintings, drawings, and sculpture of this fi nal Fascist era art exhibition argued for Fascism’s unique ability to combine power and spirituality in its pursuit of global expansion. Representing shifts in Fascist cultural production brought on by the Second World War and highlighting the central place of culture in the Fascist vision of the Axis’ New Order, the First Exhibition of Italian Soldier Artists gives visual form to the limits, contradictions, and failures of Fascism’s wars.
Keywords: Fascism, Soldier-artist, Second World War, Exhibition, Nazi-Fascist alliance, Visual arts