Palazzo della Carovana
Before embarking on her PhD studies, Margherita d’Ayala Valva earned a masters degree from Università di Firenze. In her M.A. dissertation on “The Sforni collection” (published in 2005) her main aim was to read an art collection as a pragmatic form of criticism, in the context of artistic and literary journals of the beginning of the 20th Century in Florence, such as “La Voce” and the Futuristic “Lacerba”. She pursued her studies with a PhD dissertation (published in three volumes in 2005 and 2008) at Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, under the direction of Massimo Ferretti, Gino Ruozzi and Michael Zimmermann. She analyzed there a particular form of artistic literature: artists’ aphorisms, focusing on the painter and writer Ugo Bernasconi (1874-1960), whose archives were donated to the Scuola thanks to her mediation. Parallel to her research activity, she archived and ordered manuscripts and documents from the Bernasconi Archives, and developed for the Scuola’s “Laboratorio delle Arti visive” a database of the painter’s correspondence (now registered in the Michael.org portal).
For the past few years, d’Ayala Valva has conducted research on the history and reception of artistic media. In particular, she examines artists as readers of ancient treatises and writers of their own handbooks of technical recipes. These studies of technical art treatises and artists’ notebooks are intertwined with her research on gastronomic treatises and artists’ gastronomic diaries, including her recent study of Carl Friedrich von Rumohr’s Geist der Kockunst (1822), which studies gastrosophy from the point of view of Winckelmann’s notion of style. Her interest in food studies is focused on the development of Gastrosophical attitudes in Avant-garde and contemporary art and their relation both to material culture and aesthetical taste. She is also co-author of an upcoming edited volume entitled Food, Art and Counterculture, to be published in 2014 by University of Arkansas Press.
After lecturing for years the courses “History of decorative arts” and “Food ant the arts” for the James Madison and Arcadia University Semester Programs in Florence and Rome, she is now again at Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa.
Margherita is a member of the interdisciplinary research group Futurahma. From Futurism to Classicism (1910-1922). Painting Techniques, Art History and Material Analysis, which has been selected and sponsored by the Italian Ministry of Education (MIUR). The group, composed of art historians and conservation scientists, seeks to examine problems related to the conservation of Italian avant-garde paintings from the 1910s and 1920s. To this end, the group is analyzing Italian painting techniques from the first decades of the twentieth century from art historical and scientific viewpoints, with a particular focus on the Futurist and Metaphysical movements and the “ritorno al classico”. D’Ayala Valva plays a key role in the project, as primary archival researcher on printed materials and manuscripts, program manifestos, public speeches and correspondence. She is also responsible for examining the technical manuals that were written and read by the artists, as well as contemporary editions of historical treatises.