Martina Lidwina Caruso

Dr. Martina Lidwina Caruso

freelancer art historian (may – july 2021)

research project : Cold War Conspiracies? Anti-Americanism in the Work of Giulio Turcato and André Fougeron


Martina Caruso is an art historian, writer and curator. Since completing her BA at the University of Oxford (2002) and her PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art (2013), she has lectured on the history and theory of art, photography and architecture at the University of the Arts London, Paris Assas and John Cabot University in Rome. Her book Italian Humanist Photography from Fascism to the Cold War was published with Bloomsbury in 2016. Martina was co-Director of the Giulio Turcato Archives and held the position of Assistant Director of Art, Architecture and the Creative Industries at the British School at Rome. She has curated exhibitions in Rome, New York and London. She is working on a monograph on the gaps between private memoirs and public memory under Fascism, she is researching the lives and work of British photographers Agnes and Dora Bulwer. In 2021, she has been awarded the six-month Paris x Rome Fellowship by the German Center for Art History Paris (Max Weber Foundation) and the Bibliotheca Hertziana (Max Planck Institute for Art History) for a research project on Cold War conspiracies and anti-Americanism in post-war Italian and French painting.

Research focus

Cold War Conspiracies? Anti-Americanism and Zoomorphism in Italian and French Painting


This research aims to build the counter-story to that which has been ascertained in scholarship since the mid-1990s that is the covert US promotion of abstract expressionism in particular in Europe via organs pertaining to the CIA. Arguably, the question of American versus Sino-Soviet foreign policy in the portrayal of the Korean War had a significant impact on artists that has not been addressed in sufficient depth.


Anti-Americanism, often considered a synonym of anti-imperialism, was a powerful drive amongst Western European artists and intellectuals during the Cold War in particular regarding US interventionism, often laced with conspiracy theories. The moot point of whether or not the United States used biological weapons in the Korean War in 1952 in breach of the Geneva Conventions both lies at the heart of this research and is marginal to it. What interests me in these still unresolved allegations is the way in which French and Italian artists exposed to the Communist news narratives of infected insects and anti-Americanism interpreted such images in their paintings.


At the dawn of the atomic age, the idea of the apocalypse was a reality with which artists had to measure themselves. It is within this intellectual environment of conspiracy surrounding the scientific advancements of military warfare that I create connections between very different artists. Lying at the intersection of cultural science studies and art history, my research seeks to understand how artists were translating anti-Americanism via their reading of the news and in relation to a postnuclear imagination in which insects took an abiding role provoked by the events of the war.



Dr. Martina Lidwina Caruso