A vision of the contemporary city
From February 8th to June 2nd 2014
Museo Correr, Venice
“If the pictorial expression has changed, it is because modern life has requested it…The view from the window of the railway carriage and car, combined with the speed, alter the usual appearance of things. A modern man registers a hundred times more sensory impressions than an 18th-century artist…The compression of the modern framework, its variety, its decomposition of forms are the result of all this. “
Fernand Léger, 1914
To Fernand Léger and his extraordinary career within the European artistic avant-garde, the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is dedicating a major exhibition at Museo Correr, from from 8th February to 2nd June 2014.
Curated by Anna Vallye with the scientific direction of Gabriella Belli and Timothy Rub, director of the PMA in Philadelphia and exhibition project by Daniela Ferretti, the exhibition presents over 100 works, of which more than 60 by Léger himself.
This important event is the first major exhibition about the French artist’s work to be held in Italy and will focus on the theme of the depiction of the contemporary city.
The itinerary is divided into five sections: The metropolis before the Great War, The painter of the city, Advertising,The performing arts, Space.
Among other important loans, there is the outstanding work ‘La Ville’ by Fernand Léger, a painting that led the way to the most experimental and Cubist/Futurist experimentation of his production, and which has exceptionally been loaned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art together with a group of other 25 important works. Painted by Léger in 1919 on his return to Paris after serving at the Front during the First World War, this large picture become a manifesto of painting dedicated to the representation of the contemporary city. The subject of the painting is the city and its frenetic activity, its architecture of Cubo-Futurist assemblages, and its inhabitants: mechanical, almost robotic men, harmoniously integrated into the dynamism of the new “urban machine”.
This extraordinary work will be flanked by a series of important works from public and private European and American collections, enabling visitors not only to compare Léger’s paintings with many other innovative compositions by the artist, all linked to the theme of the modern city, such as his work for theatre design and advertising and sets for theatre and cinema, but also to explore the links between his own work and that of other exponents of this fruitful avant-garde season. His rich production, which explored almost every field of artistic endeavour, from advertising and cinema to graphic design and theatre, will be compared in the exhibition with other masterpieces by leading artists of the period, as Duchamp, Picabia, Robert Delaunay, El Lissitzky, Mondrian, Le Corbusier; all artists who, like Léger himself, have contributed to renewing the notion of how to depict the city, each using a different form of experimentation, from Cubism to Futurism, Constructivism to the Neoplasticism of De Stijl.
The quantity and variety of the works and projects displayed – from the first urban landscape of all, “Smoke over rooftops” of 1911, to the so-called mural pictures executed between 1924 and 1926; from the costumes and choreographies for the “Ballets Suédois” to such famous works as “The typographer” (1919), “Man with a cane” (1920) and “Mechanical element” (1924), and Marcel L’Herbier’s film “L’inhumaine”, for which he helped with the sets – will enable visitors to judge the artistic results of those crucial two decades between 1910 and 1930 with their multifarious facets. Léger’s work in this field was truly pioneering both for his multi-disciplinary conception of art and for his striving to change the forms of painting, thereby meeting the demands of the new urban reality, in line with a phenomenon that after the Second World War would be dubbed mass communication.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue published by Skira-Milan, 2014
Curated by Anna Vallye
Scientific Coordination by Gabriella Belli
Layout by Daniela Ferretti