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Centre Pompidou Marks the Centenary of the Publication of Marinetti's Futurist Manifesto
Umberto Boccioni, La Risata, 1911 [Le Rire]. Huile sur toile 110,2 x 145,4 cm. The Museum of Modern Art, New York / Don de Herbert et Nannette Rothschild, 1959. Digital Image © 2007, The Museum of Modern Art, N.Y / Scala, Florence.

PARIS.- Marking the centenary of the publication of Marinetti’s Futurist Manifesto on the front page of the Figaro on 20 February 1909, the Centre Pompidou is organising an exhibition, “Le Futurisme à Paris – une avant-garde explosive.” The first avant-garde of the twentieth century, Futurism celebrated technology, the energy of the crowd, and the hectic activity of the modern metropolis, rejecting the equilibrium and stability inherited from Classical models for a dynamism that dislocated form.

The Centre Pompidou has made the reconsideration of the great art movements of the twentieth century a cornerstone of its new exhibition strategy. This goal of this exhibition is thus to re-evaluate the role and status of Futurism as a fundamental contribution to Modernism and to offer a new analysis of its relationship with the French avant-garde movement of Cubism, through more than 200 artworks and contemporary documents. Georges Braque, Robert Delaunay, Félix Del Marle, Marcel Duchamp, Albert Gleizes, Frantisek Kupka, Fernand Léger, Casimir Malevich, Jean Metzinger, Francis Picabia, Pablo Picasso and Ardengo Soffici were all involved in a dialogue with the Futurist painters that would be international in its impact, Futurist concepts becoming a source of inspiration for very many artists, from London to Moscow.

Resolutely optimistic, Futurism invented a new human relationship to the modern world, an unconditional faith in the future. In turning its attention to Futurism, the Centre Pompidou is fulfilling its primary goal: to show how the plastic imagination of artists, designers and architects influences the perception, thought and activities of their age.

LE FUTURISME À PARIS – UNE AVANT-GARDE EXPLOSIVE reveals the essential role played by Futurism in the development of the artistic avant-gardes of the first decade of the twentieth century.

Bringing together again more than thirty of the thirty-four paintings (among them masterpieces from the permanent display of Futurists at MoMA, New York), the exhibition reconstructs the Italian Futurists’ historic show at Galerie Bernheim-Jeune in Paris in February 1912, strongly marked by the iconographic themes characteristic of the movement (the modern city and its electric lighting, dance, the movement of crowds, riots, demonstrations etc.), while paintings and drawings by Félix Del Marle (the author, in 1913, of the manifesto Le Futurisme à Montmartre) represents the work of the one authentically Futurist French artist.

The room devoted to Cubism (Georges Braque, Robert Delaunay, Albert Gleizes, Fernand Léger, Jean Metzinger, Pablo Picasso) reveals the Cubist iconographic repertoire – nudes, still lifes and landscapes – to which the Futurists would soon oppose the image of the modern city and the motorcar, with their energy and speed.

The exhibition traces the diffusion through Europe of the Cubo-Futurism born in Paris from the dialogue of the two movements, through
• works by the painters of the Section d’Or group – Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Albert Gleizes, Frantisek Kupka, Jean Metzinger – and by Francis Picabia and Marcel Duchamp, including the latter’s Nu descendant l’escalier n°2, loaned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art;
• works by the Russian Futurists (Alexandra Exter, Natalia Goncharova, Ivan Kliun, Michael Larionov, Casimir Malevich, Liubov Popova, Olga Rozanova);
• works by the English Vorticists (David Bomberg, Jacob Epstein, Henri Gaudier Brzeska, Wyndham Percy Lewis, Christopher R. W. Nevinson);
• the Orphist works of Robert and Sonia Delaunay and Fernand Léger, and those of the American Synchromists Stanton Macdonald-Wright and Morgan Russell.

A sound and light installation commissioned from Jeff Mills will evoke the rhythm and energy the Futurists sought to render in all their works. Mills is one of the pioneers of the Techno music that emerged in Detroit, capital of the US automobile industry.

After Paris, the exhibition will be shown at the Quirinal Stables in Rome (20 February–24 May 2009), the opening marking the actual date of the publication of the Futurist Manifesto, before travelling to Tate Modern in London (12 June–13 September 2009).

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