Arturo Martini, Giustizia fascista (Giustizia corporativa, 1937)


Giusizia fascista (also known as Giustizia corporativa) is a high relief Arturo Martini conceives and accomplishes in 1937 for the Palazzo di Giustizia in Milan, and it is located between the artworks of Romano Romanelli (Giustizia Romana) and Arturo Dazzi (Giustizia Biblica), along the corridor’s wall of Corte d’Appello Civile. This final, monumental version (almost a square of about 5 metres per side) follows two preparatory studies – respectively in wax and plaster – that Martini converts in Carrara marble at the artistic laboratories Nicoli, in the Tuscan city of Carrara.

Main Principles

  1. The Sacralisation of the New Man’s Total Politics through the Arts

  2. Shaping the New Man’s Reality by Fashioning National Myths

  3. Monumentalism: Visualising Subjectivity and Objectivity


Together with the artistic contribution of Fausto Melotti, Carlo Carrà and Mario Sironi among others, Martini’s high relief is part of to the decoration of one of the most iconic public buildings commissioned by the fascist party, Piacentini’s Palazzo di Giustizia. In this context, it is easy to assume what the main theme of the whole iconographic decoration is: a series of allegoric scenes representing different aspects of Justice. Martini’s Giustizia fascista intends to portray the legal system related to labour (since 'corporazioni' is the word used by PNF to name the trade unions) through a complex allegory representing different episodes at once.

The artwork is an accurate composition, which is, in fact, the result of a quite long creative process started at the beginning of the decade, and continued in 1935, when Martini moves to Blevio, on the Como Lake. There he works mainly on small scale sculptures centred on mythological or historical subjects that one can later find also at Palazzo di Giustizia. Then, in 1937, he begins to accomplish this public commission, working on two different preparatory models: a first, simplest one, in wax and modelling clay and a second, more accurate one in plaster, definitely closed to the third marble high relief.

This process leading to the definitive 'laic version of the Last Judgement' (Vianello-Stringa-Gian Ferrari 1998, 297-98) seems to be a climax towards the triumph of 'arte di regime' for different reasons. It collects a series of themes coming from the Italian tradition, particularly relevant to fascism: the laic and the spiritual Justice – the personification of Justice at the centre of the scene, seated on the Tree of Good and Evil and supervised by the Eye of God. Heroic and mythological episodes representing the human ambition – as Daedalus and Icarus, Bellerophon and Medusa (on the left); but also conservative values like the importance of the family – shown by the evangelical parable of the Return of the Prodigal Son (lower right side) – and of welfare work – the personification of Charity helping a poor man (lower left side).

Overall, this can be considered a modern tale through images that intends to forge new men, giving them the cultural instruments 'to grow'. Especially if we consider that the artwork is located in a public space, where people are supposed to pass every day, being therefore potentially accessible to anyone.


Ferrari, Gian Claudia, Pontiggia, Elena and Livia Velani (eds). 2006. Arturo Martini. Milan: Skira.

Negri, Antonello, Bignami, Silvia, Rusconi, Paolo, Zanchetti, Giorgio and Susanna Ragionieri (eds). 2012. Anni Trenta. Arti in Italia oltre il fascismo. Florence: Giunti Editore.

Vianello, Gianni, Stringa, Nico, and Claudia Gian Ferrari (eds). 1998. Arturo Martini. Catalogo ragionato delle sculture. Vicenza: Neri Pozza Editore.

Silvia Colombo