Where in the world you can still catch an echo of the glittering years from the end of the Great War to the beginning of the Thirties? Paris of course! While “Coco Chanel shaped modern fashion, Scott Fitzgerald trumpeted the jazz age in his stories, Picasso exploded painting into Cubism and Dali lulled it into dreams” (J.Loire -The Independent). Paris, incarnated the 20th century spirit.
But you can have a bit of that also in Ferrara visiting the exhibition “Gli anni folli” (crazy years) which describes the Paris of Modigliani, Picasso and Dalí, when the city was the art capital of the world.
Monet, Matisse, Mondrian, Picasso, Braque, Modigliani, Chagall, Duchamp, De Chirico, Miró, Magritte and Dalí were the key figures in this period of exceptional artistic vitality. This period known as “the roaring twenties,” set in a capital city that was in full swing, its cosmopolitan atmosphere with the theatres, cafes, jazz, and galleries which drew musicians, writers, choreographers, film makers and artists in search of fame and fortune from all over the world.
In the City of Light, this new Mecca of art, they breathed in the air of a new era, marked by a sense of freedom and an atmosphere of revival that made Paris the international centre for creative experimentation, until the rise of the Third Reich in Germany irrevocably changed the European mood.
Stirred by the ferment at this international crossroads, the greatest artists of the time threw themselves into their work with extraordinary creative energy. The result is a stupefying kaleidoscope of styles in which, in tune with post war feelings that shifted between uncertainty and euphoria, are joined the need to achieve a new harmony in order to push away memories of the war and the willingness to break with the past and begin afresh, creating entirely new art.
Gli anni folli tells the story of this exciting period at the Palazzo dei Diamanti until January 8th 2012. The exhibition, organized by Ferrara Arte and curated by Simonetta Fraquelli, Maria Luisa Pacelli and Susan Davidson brings together not only paintings, but also sculptures, theatrical costumes, photographs, ready-mades, and drawings on loan from the most prestigious museums and private collections in the world.
The exhibition starts with the work of two Impressionist masters who were still active and influential in the interwar period. If the monumental The Source by Renoir revealed to Picasso and his colleagues the power of a modern rereading of classical and renaissance art, Monet’s revolutionary works, such asJapanese Bridge, exploded any ideas of naturalistic representation and perspective and reached the threshold of abstraction.
Embodying the cosmopolitan and bohemian flavour of artistic life in Paris are the portraits and nudes from the École de Paris, a loose constellation of young foreign artists, such as Modigliani, Chagall, Van Dongen, Foujita and Soutine, who were linked by a strongly personal figurative style that was consistent with the dream of freedom that had attracted them to the French capital. The full and harmonious forms of the Modigliani’s Nude also reveal this striving for balance which is voiced, in various ways, by many of the trends active in Paris in the Twenties.
Masterpieces like Mandolin, glass, fruit bowl and fruit by Picasso and The round table by Braque show the elegant measured style that the fathers of cubism experimented with in this phase. In these years, Picasso directed his multifaceted genius in a variety of directions. He was among the pioneers, along with Derain, De Chirico and Severini, of the modern classicism that prevailed in the Twenties using traditional themes drawn from the Commedia dell’arte: such as Maternity by Picasso, the masterly Nude with cat by Derain, Two mythological figures by De Chirico, or the sophisticated Pulcinella by Severini. In their turn, Matisse and Bonnard reclaim a naturalistic vein in the sensual figures that they created in the south of France and in Normandy but exhibited in Paris, such as the beautiful Reclining nude and Nude, yellow background. And it was in Paris, in 1919, that the Dutch artist, Piet Mondrian, began creating his revolutionary neoplastic pictures inspired by the principle of universal order as a response to the anxieties and fears of the period following the Great War. Representing this crucial phase in his research are two grid-based compositions in pure colours, one from the first Parisian period and the other from the height of the Twenties.
The theatre represents an important frontier for the artists, who designed costumes and backdrops for experimental companies like the Ballets Russes and the Ballets Suédois, bringing to these scenes the genius of their creative efforts. A spectacular arrangement of costumes, sketches and reproductions of stage sets by Matisse, Larionov, Léger and De Chirico inform the idea of this “total work of art” born of the meeting of music, dance and visual arts.
With Dadaism and Surrealism, the creative exuberance and radical spirit of the avant-garde movement broke on the art scene in Paris. Ironic, provocative and iconoclastic, the works of the Dadaists took aim at the moral and cultural conventions of middle class society. Representative works include Duchamp’s ready-made Air de Paris or Fresh Widow and Man Ray’s Cadeau, as much as the “useless machines” of Picabia such as L’oeil. Caméra. Following the Dada movement, the birth of Surrealism rekindled a universal utopian project: to give the world a new meaning which would open the way for the spiritual and material liberation of humanity. The exhibition closes with the pictures and sculptures of Ernst, Miró, Masson, Magritte, Tanguy, Giacometti and Dalí, with their dreamlike and disturbing imagery, like windows opening onto marvels that invite the breaking of all inhibitions and reawaken desires and the imagination.
Open every day, Mondays and Bank holidays included, from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm
Also open November 1st, December 8th, 25th, and 26th, and January 1st and 6th
More info, phone +39 0532 244949 or firstname.lastname@example.org