Visual Arts Publications
Reconsidering the 'Obscene': The Massa Marittma Mural
Located within Massa Marittima’s public fountain, the Fonte dell’Abbondanza, the mural of a tree featuring twenty-five large phalli suspended from its branches has puzzled scholars and citizens alike, both grasping to understand its ambiguous meaning and general significance. Dr. George Ferzoco, chair of the Centre for Tuscan Studies at the University of Leicester, is the first scholar to present and publish his research on the work. In response, scholars are sluggish to take critical issue with Ferzoco’s glossed explication of the Mural’s formal elements, disparate influences, and candid political spirit. The objective of this essay is to systematically deconstruct Ferzoco’s (previously) undisputed analysis of the Mural and its related elements in order to develop a deeper, more precise reading, while opening new lines of flight.
Matthew Ryan Smith is a Ph.D. candidate in Art and Visual Culture at The University of Western Ontario.