The Philadelphia Museum Of Art Brings Guests On A Lively Tour Of 20th-Century Paris In Léger: Modern Art And The Metropolis, Opening Monday, October 14

From October 14 through January 5, the Philadelphia Museum of Art welcomes the work of French modern artist Fernand Léger in a mixed media marquee exhibition. (Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris)

Beginning on Monday, October 14, experience the energy of Paris during a time of monumental change at the Philadelphia Museum of Art as it presents its brand new marquee exhibition, Léger: Modern Art And The Metropolis.

Léger, on view through January 5, 2014, takes museum-goers on a visual journey through the evolution of Paris, from a pre-war avant-garde city to a post-World War I metropolis full of a newfound appreciation for life and modern technology.

The exhibit introduces guests to a young Fernand Léger who moved to Paris at the tender age of 19 from the French countryside, and immediately began creating art and working with a number of other artists, filmmakers, set designers and other contemporaries. The work of Léger and his friends take center stage throughout the exhibit.

Though the museum is usually closed on Monday, in honor of the Columbus Day holiday and the opening of this important exhibition, the entire museum will be open Monday, October 14.

Philadelphia is the only stop in the United States for Léger: Modern Art And The Metropolis, so be sure to make a special visit to the museum this fall or winter to take in this remarkable display.

Fernand Léger

While he is not a name that is widely known for his collection of modern works, Léger spearheaded the growth of avant-garde art and modern art in Paris and even created art in New York City for American tycoons like John D. Rockefeller.

Fernand Léger grew up in the French countryside and moved to Paris in his late-teenage years. Later, he was sent to fight in World War I and upon his return, brought back more energy and love for Paris than ever before. His post-war art depicts excitement for life and the city, and the connection between all forms of art. Throughout his life, he created a variety of artwork, from film sets to theater backdrops to paintings to large-scale murals. He aimed to have his pieces of art come across as living things that are meant to spark excitement about city life.

The Exhibition

The exhibition consists of more than 160 works and is split into a number of themed rooms, each spotlighting a different era in the work of Léger and his counterparts.

Upon first entrance, guests are greeted by a short film shot by Thomas Edison during a trip to Paris during Léger’s heyday. From there, Léger’s first pieces of avant-garde art fill the gallery walls. One of his first paintings, which he created in 1911, launches the exhibition and showcases the city of Paris from the view of an apartment window.

That painting sparked the idea that cities are all about contrast, creating explosive interactions between dwellers and encouraging an accelerated pace of life, an idea that set the tone for Léger’s work throughout his life.

The exhibition then leads attendees into a giant open room full of mixed-media centering on the theme of publicity. Brightly colored advertisements, pages from print magazines and film clips fill the gallery. Next, theater becomes the focal point with backdrops for sets, theater drawings and marionettes.

Lastly, Léger’s affinity for architecture is brought to light through models of homes and a short film featuring villas in the French countryside. Léger, who was trained as an architectural draftsman, had a special place for modern architecture and some of the era’s most notable architects.

Read on for more on this engaging new exhibit.

The bold work Composition with Hand and Hats by Fernand Léger was painted in 1927 (Image courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art/Centre Pompidou, Paris Musée national d'art moderne/Centre de création industrielle)

The City

The City, the focal point of the exhibition, is a large-scale piece of art that upon first glance is reminiscent of a mural, theatrical backdrop and advertising billboard. Léger saw the significance of all forms of art and how they each can complement one another.

The City is meant to inspire and activate viewers to participate in urban life and become immersed in culture. There is not a specific spot on the painting where the viewer’s eyes can comfortably sit. Rather, it portrays the excitement of Parisian life through a variety of jagged lines reminiscent of apartment buildings, silhouettes, stairs and other common city sights.

Multimedia Elements

Léger worked on a variety of artistic projects and saw the beauty in each — from film to advertising to canvas paintings. Throughout the exhibition, guests will find short films set to original or remastered music, projected throughout the galleries. Some of the films include Léger as a partner and others represent an indirect collaboration.

The final projection is the ending sequence of L’Inhumaine, the first film Léger ever worked on.

Guests will also find sculptures, a recreated model of a 20th-century theater set, magazine clippings and much more.

Special Events

Throughout the duration of the exhibition, a number of public programs relating to the work of Léger and his counterparts are slated to occur. On Wednesdays, October 23, 30, November 6 and 13, guests are invited to join in a conversation about the relationship between a select avant-garde film and its relevance to modern art at Ciné-Club: A Series of Film Screenings and Conversations.

On Sunday, October 20, a family-friendly celebration transforms the art museum into Paris in the fall. Create Paris-inspired art, move to live music, explore the exhibition on family-friendly tours and watch a giant chalk mural come to life.

The full list of corresponding events is available here.

Tickets for the exhibition are available online, and are issued for a specific date and time.

All tickets do include a complimentary exhibition audio tour and general admission to the main building, Perelman Building, Rodin Museum and historic house Mount Pleasant for two consecutive days.

Be sure to select your dates carefully, as tickets are nonrefundable and subject to an exchange fee prior to the selected date.

And see below for a peek into this exciting exhibition.

Léger: Modern Art And The Metropolis
When: October 14-January 5
Where: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Cost: Adults, $25; Seniors, $23, Students and Youth (ages 13-18), $20; Children (ages 5-12), $12; Children under 4, Free
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