Exhibition at Centre Pompidou-Metz Provides an View of the Year 1917

A man looks at a giant painting on a theatre curtain by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, during the presentation of the exhibition "1917" at the Centre Pompidou in Metz, eastern France, on May 23, 2012. Paintings, sculptures, photographies, movies or musics realized during the wartime will be shown to the public from May 26 until September 24. AFP PHOTO / PATRICK HERTZOG

This vast multidisciplinary exhibition provides an instant view of every field of creativity during this year of the First World War. It asks what such a narrow, precise context as a single year might mean for creative activity, while avoiding the pitfalls of expectations and assumptions as to the nature of wartime art.

1917 was a year of extreme diversity in artistic production. The exhibition sets out to convey this by illustrating artists’ various positions relative to the battlefront and the multiple forms their work took. Alongside established artists who drew inspiration more or less directly from world affairs were the amateur artists who felt the need to respond to the trials of war through creative expression, not least in the trench art – objects made from shells and weapons – an ensemble of which is one of the highlights of the exhibition. Equally important are the war artists who were sent to the front to record events and bring back images of battle, and the many individuals who, as eyewitnesses, left their memory of the conflict for posterity.

The exhibition shows works from public, private, art and military collections, both French and international. Foremost among these are the many works loaned by the Centre Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne, including Picasso’s stage curtain for the ballet Parade. 1917 also gives rise to partnerships with the Bibliothèque de Documentation Internationale Contemporaine (Nanterre), the Musée de l’Armée (Paris), the Musée du Service de Santé des Armées (Paris), the Historial de la Grande Guerre (Péronne) and the Imperial War Museums (London).

1917 is the first in a series of events taking place in France to commemorate the centennial of the First World War. It is endorsed by the Mission du Centenaire de la Première Guerre Mondiale 1914-2014.

The exhibition is devised in two parts. In Galerie 1, it considers artists’ physical and mental involvement with the events of 1917, and highlights the diversity of their work that year. In the Grande Nef, it looks at interactions between destruction, reconstruction and creation, particularly in the theatre and culminating in the presentation of Pablo Picasso’s stage curtain for the ballet Parade.

GALERIE 1
As it leads away from the heart of the conflict to regions further afield, or to inner worlds, the first part of the exhibition shows how artists responded differently to the events of 1917. These individual reactions, when taken together, form a map of creative expression in 1917 from which different types of artist emerge: nineteenth-century personalities, avant-gardists, official war artists, artistsoldiers and soldier-artists, people of all nationalities. This section is structured around recurrent themes, motifs or practices; the emergence of artistic communities and avant-garde movements in troubled times; and how certain artists rejected or distanced themselves from events. A large body of documents highlights the vital importance, in every country, of images and the written word.

GRANDE NEF
The second part of the exhibition is arranged in a spiral, a recurrent motif in the art of 1917 which conveys as much the physical maelstrom as inner torment. It considers the links between creation, destruction and reconstruction. War scarred the soul as much as bodies and faces, buildings and landscapes. Death and injury were omnipresent, putting protection at the centre of concerns, from camouflage to masks whose multiple avatars—military, mortuary and primitive—run throughout this section. Changing identities and altered appearance also belong to the theatrical world, both in civilian society and on the battle front. They reprise the male/female role reversal engendered by war and social upheaval. Harlequin, another masked character, makes repeated appearances up to the climax of the exhibition: Picasso’s stage curtain for the ballet Parade.

1917 goes beyond these two gallery spaces to encompass a display of large military equipment in the Forum. This spectacular presentation, of a type not usually found inside a cultural venue such as the Centre Pompidou-Metz, will plunge visitors into one aspect of the year 1917.

An event in its own right: the exhibition of Picasso’s biggest work, the stage curtain for the ballet Parade
Serge Diaghilev, director of the Ballets Russes, commissioned Picasso to paint the stage curtain for Parade. The ballet, with a scenario by Jean Cocteau and music by Erik Satie, is one of the first examples of avant-garde artists from different disciplines working together. As Guillaume Apollinaire wrote in his preface to the programme, the ballet reveals “for the first time this union of painting and dance, costume and theatre which hails the advent of a more complete form of art.” First performed at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris on 18 May 1917, Parade was hugely controversial and prompted important debate within the Paris avant-garde milieu.

The stage curtain – a huge canvas measuring 10.5 by 16.4 metres (more than 170 square metres) and weighing 45 kilos – is Picasso’s largest known painting. It has not been shown in France in more than twenty years. Its mysterious figures and autobiographical nature, reinforced by references to his Rose Period, make it one of the masterpieces in the collections of the Centre Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne. Inspired by the ballet’s theme of a travelling circus in search of fame and fortune, Pablo Picasso imagined a curtain depicting poetic scenes, with a Harlequin, performers, a fairy..

Source: Centre Pompidou 

You Might Also Like...
Tom Wesselmann, Great American Nude No. 5, 1961. Oil and mixed media collage on board. Estimate: £500,000-700,000. Photo: Sotheby's.
Sotheby’s announced that it will offer for sale an extraordinary group of Modern and Contemporary artworks from a Private Swedish Collection. Built by a private Swedish individual from the 1960s ...
READ MORE
Claude Monet, Nymphéas avec reflets de hautes herbes, 1914-17. Oil on canvas, 130 x 200cm. Estimate: 12,000,000-18,000,000 GBP. Photo: Sotheby's.
Sotheby's London forthcoming Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on Tuesday 5th February 2013 will be led by a monumental 1932 portrait of Picasso’s ‘golden muse’ Marie-Therese Walter (est. £25-35 ...
READ MORE
Alfred Stieglitz (American 1964 – 1946), View of the exhibition “Statuary in Wood by African Savages: The Root of Modern Art”. Detail from Camera Work—A Photographic Quarterly 48 (October 1916), p.66. Printed book with photogravure illustrations. H. x W. x D.: 32 x 22.4 x 1.7 cm (12 5/8 x 8 13/16 x 11/16 in.). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Alfred Stieglitz Collection, by exchange, 1953 (53.701.49)© The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art presents a special exhibition highlighting the African works acquired by the New York avant-garde and its most influential patrons during the 1910s and 1920s. At ...
READ MORE
Pablo Picasso, Woman Ironing (La repasseuse), Bateau-Lavoir, Paris, spring 1904. Oil on canvas, 116.2 x 73 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Thannhauser Collection, Gift, Justin K. Thannhauser© 2012 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Kristopher McKay © The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum recently completed extensive conservation work on Picasso’s Woman Ironing and is releasing the findings today. The marquee piece of the “Picasso Black and White” exhibition, ...
READ MORE
Fernand Léger (1881-1955), Projet peinture murale. Signed with initials 'F. L.' (lower right), gouache, brush and India ink on paper, 11 x 24 1/4in. (28 x 61cm). Executed circa 1940. EST. $120,000 - 180,000. Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams.
The Bonhams sale of Impressionist and Modern Art, November 5 in New York, will feature 80 lots by period masters. Highlights will include works by Pablo Picasso, Fernand Léger, Emil ...
READ MORE
Claude Monet, Champ de blé. Signed and dated Claude Monet 81 (lower left). Oil on canvas, 65.5. by 81.5 cm. Painted in 1881. Est. $5/7 million. Photo: Sotheby's.
Sotheby’s annual fall Evening Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art in New York will be held on 5 November 2012, featuring a significant group of works by Pablo Picasso that ...
READ MORE
Pablo Picasso, Le déjeuner sur l'herbe. Colored wax crayons and brush and black ink on panel, 14 x 18 in. (35.5 x 45.7 cm.) Executed in Cannes, 11 August 1959. Estimate: $1,000,000-1,500,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2012.
Christie’s New York announced its upcoming Evening Sale of Impressionist and Modern Art on November 7 will feature an impressive group of nine works by Pablo Picasso. This extraordinary selection ...
READ MORE
Mother with Dead Child II, Postscript to Guernica (Femme avec enfant mort II, Post scriptum à Guernica) Grands-Augustins, Paris, September 26, 1937. Oil on canvas, 130 x 195 cm. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Bequest of the artist © 2012 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: © Archivo fotográfico Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid.
Picasso Black and White, the first major exhibition to focus on the artist’s lifelong exploration of a black-and-white palette throughout his prolific career, is being presented at the Guggenheim Museum ...
READ MORE
Sotheby’s London to Offer Private Swedish Art Collection
Picasso and Monet to Lead Sotheby’s Impressionist &
Exhibition on History of African Artifacts as Art
Conservation Work of Pablo Picasso’s “Woman Ironing” Reveals
Bonhams to Offer Stellar Works by Impressionist and
Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale to
Christie’s Evening Sale of Impressionist and Modern Art
Major Guggenheim Exhibition Puts Focus on Picasso’s Black-and-White

Be Sociable, Share!
This entry was posted in Art, Art News and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>