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 Architecture in 19th-century Italy was fairly unremarkable, although there were interesting developments in town planning in Turin, Trieste and Milan. The beginning of modern architecture in Italy is epitomised by the late - 19th-century shopping galleries in Milan, Naples, Genoa and Turin with their distinctive iron-and-glass roofs. This fashion never quite made it to Rome, which instead got the massive white marble monument to Vittorio Emanuele II - the so-called wedding cake - built between 1885 and 1911. As the new capital of Italy, Rome got its own dose or urban planning, including massive apartment blocks, monumental public buildings and the River Tiber embankment.

The only notable artistic endeavours of the early 19th century were produced by academic history painters such as Francesco Hayez (1791-1882).

The years from 1855 to 1865 saw the heyday of the Macchiaioli (from the Italian for "stain" or "blot"), who produced a version of pointillism using thousands of dots of pure colour to build up the picture, and the end of the century saw the rise of the Italian Symbolists. Painting since Italian unification in 1870 is most readily found in Rome's Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna.

In the 20th century, Art Nouveau, know in Italy as Lo Stile Liberty, made a brief appearance before Mussolini and the Fascist era inaugurated massive building schemes such as EUR (Esposizione Universale di Roma), a complete district on the outskirts of Rome. Art Nouveau probably would have died out anyway, much as it did elsewhere in Europe in the course of the 1920s. But the arrival of Mussolini ushered in an era of grandiose, state-sponsored architecture that left no room for the whimsy of Art Nouveau.

The internationally celebrated Pier Luigi Nervi (1891-1979) made reinforced concrete one of his chief materials in his designs for Rome's Olympic Stadium (built 1960) and the papal audience chamber in the Vatican.

The Italian Futurists were inspired by urbanism, industry and the idea of progress. Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916) and Giacomo Balla (1871-1958) aligned themselves with the Futurist Manifesto (1909) by writer Emilio Marinetti, while Carlo Carra' (1881-1996) had much in common with Cubists such as Pablo Picasso. Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964) consistently depicted tangible objects such as bottles and jars and made them appear as abstract forms, while the Surrealist Giorgio De Chirico (1888-1978) painted visionary empty streetscapes with elements disconcertingly juxtaposed, often incorporating allusions to classical antiquity.

Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920) spent most of this adult life in Paris. However, his art - mainly arresting portraits and sensuous reclining female nudes - was firmly rooted in the tradition of the Italian Renaissance and Mannerist masters.

Giacomo Manzu' (1908-91) revived the Italian religious tradition in sculpture. His best known work is a bronze door (to the left of the central Holy Door) in St Peter's in Rome.

Italy's two leading contemporary architects are Renzo Piano (born 1937), whose new music auditorium in Rome is almost complete, and Paolo Portoghesi (born 1931), who designed Rome's mosque, but both seem to do more work abroad than in their native country.

Important post-WWII painters and sculptors include Burri, Colla, Manzoni and Pascali, as well as the Ttransavanguardia ("beyond the avant-garde"), whose exponents include Enzo Cucchi, Francesco Clemente, Mimmo Paladino, Alberto Giacometti, Lucio Fontana and Sandro Chia, many of whom have worked and gained success both in Italy and abroad. A good place to get a handle on modern Italian art is Rome's Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna.

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