Linear: The City and Culture

By Jo Phillips

The City
The City, 1919, by Fernand Léger (Philadelphia Museum of Art: A. E. Gallatin Collection, 1952-61-58) © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris;

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is preparing a multimedia exhibit beginning in October titled Modern Art and the Metropolis, which is centred around Fernand Leger‘s iconic painting The City. Modern Art and the Metropolis intends to play on and explore the nature of the relationship between art and culture using works from all media taken from a variety of creatives. The exhibit also aims to capture the feeling and energy of the 1920’s by using pieces done by other similarly influenced peers of Léger: Le Corbusier, Piet Mondrian, Alexandra Exter, and others.

Alexandra Exter
Project for a Lighting Maquette, scenic designs from the portfolio Décors de Théâtre, pls. 12 and 15, by Alexandra Exter. Published 1930 (The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Jerome Robbins Dance Division, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations);

As the CEO of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Timothy Rub, notes, “This exhibition examines the painting in context and marks the first time the culture of the modern metropolis is explored as a catalyst for Léger’s pursuits in a variety of media”. As The City is the keystone of the exhibit, many of the other pieces have strong similarities to what is widely considered to be Léger’s magnum opus. These connections aren’t necessarily obvious; many of the pieces comment on the visual nature of the urban environment as well as the nature of mass communication, which is seen throughout Léger’s work. The exhibit will run from October 14th, 2013 to January 5th, 2014.

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