The presence of two masterpieces by Italian Futurist Gino Severini at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, The Blue Dancer (1912) and Sea = Dancer (January 1914), provoked the theme of this exhibition, which will bring together approximately fifty of the most colorful, joyful and advanced paintings, with related works on paper, of the Italian Avant-Garde of the early 20th century.
The exhibition is being organized by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection (Solomon R.Guggenheim Foundation) for the summer of 2001 and it has already secured major loans from the Museum of Modern Art, the Agnelli Collection, the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, and other important international private and public collections. The curator is Daniela Fonti, a leading expert on Severini and author of the artist's catalogue raisonnè.
Between 1910 and 1915 Severini was a central figure of Italian Futurism - a movement that celebrated modern life by giving expression to pictorial and sculptural movement, speed, dynamism and above all contemporary philosophical theories about sensory perception in the new urban and industrial anvironments of the early 20th century. As a resident of Paris from 1906, he served as an intermediary between his Futurist colleagues in Italy and his friends among the Parisian avant-garde, dominated at this time by Cubism.
The theme of the Dance above all others inspired the experimental imagination of Severini during his Futurist period. Inherited from the imagery of the fin de siècle, the Dance became for him an icon of modernity (as a receptacle for the manifold influences of Symbolist literature and as a mirror for the spectacle of contemporary life). It served as a metaphor for the exploration of new forms of the physical and psychological involvement of the spectator. From the first works, recalling the world of the Parisian cabaret (Le Chat Noir, Le Bal Tabarin, Pigalle, Monico), through cycles dedicated to fashionable dances (the Argentine Tango, the Bear Dance), the theme progressively abandoned any descriptive reference and moved towards a pure, musical rhythm.
At the end of 1914, Severini enriched the theme with the profundity implicit in abstract form, thus alluding to cosmic movement and conveying the "Orphic" theme of the glorification of light.
In the final works, that foreshadow a return to Cubist discipline, Severini provided the definitive confirmation that for him the theme of the dance was at once a subject, a model for stylistic exercise, and a system for interpreting the world.
The exhibition will be enriched by the presence of a small number of sculptures, paintings, drawings and photographs on the theme of the Dance by Severini's contemporaries, such as Sironi, Balla, Gaudier-Brzeska, Depero, and van Doesburg. An audio-visual section will present early 20th century footage of the ambience, the songs and the dance rhytms of the Parisian cafés dansantes and cabarets.
DANIELA FONTI, art historian, teaches at the Accademia di Belle Arti, Rome, and has published the catalogue raisonné of Severini's paintings (Mondadori-Daverio, Milan, 1988).
Gino Severini. The Dance 1909 - 1916
Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Philip Rylands, Deputy Director 0412405421
Catalogo edito da Edizioni Skira, Via Torino 61 - 20123 Milano
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