Carla Lonzi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Carla Lonzi
Carla Lonzi

March 6, 1931
DiedAugust 2, 1982
EducationHumanities, University of Florence
OccupationWriter, art critic
Known forFeminism

Carla Lonzi (Florence, March 6, 1931 – Milan, August 2, 1982) was an Italian art critic and feminist activist, who is best known as a cofounder of the Rivolta Femminile (Feminine Revolt), an Italian feminist collective formed in 1970.

Lonzi's significant works include:Autoritratto ("Self-Portrait", 1969); "Writings on Art" (1970); Manifesto di Rivolta femminile ("Manifesto of the Feminine Revolt", 1970); Sputiamo su Hegel, La donna clitoridea e la donna vaginale e altri scritti ("Let’s Spit on Hegel,[1] The Clitoridian Woman and the Vaginal Woman, and Other Writings", 1974); "Diary of a Feminist" (1977).

Personal life[edit]

Carla Lonzi

Carla Lonzi was born in Florence, Italy, on March 6, 1931 to a middle-class family. Her father owned a small industrial company and her mother dedicated her life to the nurture and education of Lonzi and her four siblings.

Lonzi married Mario Lena in 1955. In 1960, she gave birth to their son, Battista Lena. Lonzi found married life straining. She and Lena separated in 1963. The following year, in 1964, Lonzi began her relationship with Pietro Consagra, an Italian sculptor. Lonzi and Consagra never married. Their relationship ended following the publication of Lonzi's "Autorittrato".

Lonzi died on August 2, 1982, in Milan, Italy, at the age of 51.

Art Criticism[edit]

Lonzi began her career as an art critic in the late 1950s. Her career peaked in the 1960s but came to an abrupt, self-induced, end in 1969 following the publishing of her book

"Autorittrato" (Self-Portrait).

Much of Lonzi's work in art criticism largely went unnoticed and is barely mentioned in art critical and art historical discourse. For example, Lonzi's final, and most well-known, work in the field of art criticism, "Autorittrato", was quickly forgotten. There are several proposed explanations for this, including that Lonzi's art historical work was widely interpreted as an extension of her work as a feminist activist and that it did not adopt a traditional approach to the promotion of Italian art in the 1970s and 80s.[1]


Some of Lonzi's most notable works in the field of art criticism include "Autorittrato" and "Writings on Art".

"Autorittrato", published in 1969, is a book made up from tape-recorded conversations between Lonzi and 14 artists between the years of 1965 and 1969. Following its original publication, it was very difficult to find for decades. "Autorittrato" reworks the role and identity of the art critic. [2] It does so in multiple ways. It invents a style of writing grounded in concepts of subjectivity and discussion. [3] This style is characterized by a natural flow of discourse, the signalling of pauses, and a first-person narrative. Further, Lonzi strays from a traditional use of photography, one which presents the artists’ work, by using caption-less, black and white, personal photos of the artists.

"Autorittrato" reveals Lonzi's theory of creative subjectivity, one which aims to deconstruct patriarchal concepts such as individuality. [4] Further, through its recorded interviews it seeks to authentically capture the processes and products of art that Lonzi argues is often lost in art's exhibition. In addition, "Autorittrato" highlights issues of identity construction which remerge in her feminist work.

The artists featured in Authorittrato: • Lucio FontanaJannis KounellisLuciano FabroPino PascaliGiulio PaoliniMimmo RotellaCarla Accardi (the only female artist) • Giuseppe Alviani • Enrico Castellani • Mario Nigro • Salvatore ScarpittaGiulio TurcatoCy Twombly · Pietro Consagra

Lonzi's "Writings on Art" is a diary-like work written between the years of 1955 and 1970. Because it was written over a 15-year period, its ideas are in constant evolution. "Writings on Art" is a culmination of information collected from periodicals, exhibition catalogues, conference papers, and newspaper essays.

Filmography and Theatre[edit]

While it is not widely recognized, Lonzi was greatly invested in film and theatre both as a spectator and creator throughout her career. Lonzi was attracted to performance art for its ability to stage real life experiences. She saw it as a way of reproducing life and revealing truths. In her early years, Lonzi appealed to theatre in her master's dissertation. [5] Later in her career, lessons she learned from film and the theatre continued to impact her work. For example, in her work "Autorittrato", Lonzi uses a film-like dialogue to capture an authentic take on artmaking.

Feminist Activism[edit]

Turn to Activism[edit]

Beginning in the 1970s, Lonzi took a feminist stance against art. [6] She had grown to view art as being yet another part of a system of institutions and labour which enable unequal power relations and the overall oppression of women. [7] Lonzi now viewed art criticism as a ‘phoney profession’. [8] For this reason, Lonzi abandoned her career as an art critic for the feminist cause. She did not believe that there was a possible reconciliation between art and feminist activism. [9]

Despite her eventual negative outlook on the field of art and art criticism, Lonzi has said that the experience and knowledge she gained from her work at as art critic greatly aided in her abilities as a feminist activist and theorist. [10]

Scholars have described "Autorittrato" as Lonzi's farewell to the art world. Although she defected from the institutions of art, which she viewed as incompatible with the objectives of radical feminism, she did not stop writing about art or "creativity as a mode of self-emancipation."[2]

Rivolta Femminile[edit]

The Rivolta Femminile is an Italian feminist collective formed in Rome in 1970 by Carla Lonzi, Carla Accardi, and Elvira Banotti. In July 1970, the walls of Rome became a canvas for a manifesto based on the "Manifesto di Rivolta Femminile"[3], drafted by Lonzi, Accardi, and Banotti earlier that year.

The politics of the Rivolta Femminile are largely grounded in "autocoscienza" theory and practices. "Autocoscienza", meaning a heightened sense of self-consciousness or self-awareness, is a collective exercise of feminist "consciousness-raising." [11] It is a belief that women can better understand themselves through dialogue with other women. Further, it is an argument that a woman's "autocoscienza" will never be complete until it is recognized and appreciated by the "autocoscienza" of another woman.

The Rivolta Femminile developed its own publishing house, the Scritti di Rivolta Femminile, which allowed the group to distribute its own work. This was important to Lonzi who had a particular interest in writing and publishing.


Lonzi was the author of some of Italian Feminism's most important documents. Her numerous provocative texts and manifestos pushed the boundaries of traditional understandings of conversation and the manifesto format. This reinvention was done through continuous experimentation with writing and knowledge production. [12]

Some of Lonzi's most notable works are "The Clitoral and the Vaginal Woman", "Let’s spit on Hegel", and "Diary of a Feminist".

Lonzi's Diary of a Feminist is made up of diary entries written between the years of 1972 and 1977. It is a practice in "autocoscienza", in other words, feminist consciousness raising. The Diary is largely an experiment with relationships, as well as an exploration of female sexuality and a pursuit of truth. [13] It makes reference to many important people in Lonzi's life, although they are referred to using fictitious names. Some of these individuals include Carla Accardi, artist and cofounder of the Rivolta Femminile, Pietro Consagra, Lonzi's partner for many years, as well as Marta Lonzi, who was also a member of the Rivolta Femminile. In addition, there exist many contradictions between the early and late years of the diary. For example, in the first sections of the work Lonzi is principally concerned with the collective of women, which corresponds with the concept of "autocoscienza", whereas in the later sections she largely focuses on her relationship with Consagra. [14]

Let’s Spit on Hegel (1970) is one of the seminal texts of Italian feminism, which questioned women's claim for equality by stressing the patriarchal character of Hegel’s dialectic and ‘theory of recognition’.[4] It was published for the first time in 1970 by the Rivolta Femminile, deconstructs what Lonzi argues as the patriarchal nature of Hegel’s theories. It was originally published in sections between the years of 1970 and 1972 and then published as an assimilated whole in 1974. Each section reveals one stage of Lonzi’s personal consciousness raising, "autocoscienza".

In The Clitoridian Woman and the Vaginal Woman (1971), through the analysis of Freud and Reich’s psychoanalysis, Desmond Morrispaleoanthropology, the Kama Sutra and others, Carla Lonzi claims that the myth of the vaginal orgasm serves the patriarchal model of the complementarity of women to men. If this complementarity between man and woman is permitted during procreation, it is not allowed during sexuality. It focuses on the concept of subjectivity. It was published at a time when women's sexuality and self-liberation were at the forefront of feminist discussion. This work added to these discussions. [15]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Claire Fontaine, "We Are All Clitoridian Women: Notes on Carla Lonzi’s Legacy"[5]
  • Margrit Brückner, "On Carla Lonzi: The victory of the clitoris over the vagina as an act of women’s liberation"[6]


  1. ^ "Let's spit on Hegel" (PDF).
  2. ^ Ventrella, Francesco (August 2014). "Carla Lonzi's artwriting and the resonance of separatism". European Journal of Women's Studies. 21: 282–287 – via JSTOR.
  3. ^ "Manifesto di Rivolta femminile". Internazionale (in Italian). 2017-03-08. Retrieved 2018-03-03.
  4. ^ Rudan, Paola (2015-02-10). "Carla Lonzi's Let's Spit on Hegel".
  5. ^ Fontaine, Claire. "We Are All Clitoridian Women: Notes on Carla Lonzi's Legacy".
  6. ^ Brückner, Margrit (2014). "On Carla Lonzi: The victory of the clitoris over the vagina as an act of women's liberation". European Journal of Women's Studies. 21 (3): 278–282. doi:10.1177/1350506814529900.