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Léger: Modern Art and the Metropolis

“…an ambitious, engaging exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum, "Léger: Modern Art and the Metropolis," allows us to savor the many different ways that different practitioners expressed their fascination with the brilliance, speed and general raucousness of the modern urban environment.” - Karen Wilkin, The Wall Street Journal, December 2, 2013

Exhibition Report


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October 14, 2013—January 5, 2014 Location: Dorrance Special Exhibition Galleries, Main Building Curator: Anna Vallye, Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow in Modern and Contemporary Art, with Carlos Basualdo, The Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Senior Curator of Contemporary Art

This interdisciplinary exhibition shed new light on the vitally experimental decade of the 1920s in Paris when the great French modernist Fernand Léger (1881-1955) played a leading role in redefining the practice of painting by bringing it into active engagement with the urban environment and modern mass media. This was the first exhibition to take as its inspiration and focus Léger’s monumental painting The City (1919), a cornerstone of the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s collection and a landmark in the history of modern art, placing it in dialogue with urban art and the culture of modernity. The exhibition presented a core group of Léger’s exceptional paintings on the theme of the city, along with film projections, theater designs, architectural models, and print and advertising designs by the artist and his contemporaries. In a multi-media installation of more than 120 works, including loans from American and European public and private collections, this exhibition demonstrated the varied strategies through which artists and designers of the European avant-garde, with Léger in the lead, sought to participate in the complexity and excitement of the metropolis. The exhibition featured work by approximately 40 artists, including Cassandre, Robert and Sonia Delaunay, Theo van Doesburg, Alexandra Exter, Abel Gance, Le Corbusier, Piet Mondrian, Gerald Murphy, Francis Picabia, and Man Ray.

Publication The accompanying exhibition catalogue was edited by Anna Vallye; with contributions by Christian Derouet, Maria Gough, Stuart Liebman, Spyros Papapetros, Anna Vallye, and Jennifer Wild. Published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and distributed worldwide by Yale University Press, a total of 2,163 copies of the publication were sold during the run of the exhibition. This catalogue cast new light on Léger’s 1919 masterpiece The City (reproducing all of its studies together for the very first time), the avant-garde use of print media, and the artist’s fascination with cinema and architecture. It contextualized a network of international avant-gardes, including Blaise Cendrars, Le Corbusier, Jean Epstein, Piet Mondrian, Amedee Ozenfant, Francis Picabia, and Theo van Doesburg in relation to Léger. Featuring nearly 250 images of paintings, architectural designs, models, posters, set designs, and film stills, and an anthology of

The Philadelphia Museum of Art served as the only U.S. stop for the exhibition, which later traveled to the Museo Correr on Saint Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy. There were 52,407 exhibition visitors in Philadelphia, including 3,055 with discounted student tickets.


relevant historical texts not previously published in English, this handsome hardcover volume of 256 pages conveyed the spirit of experimentation of the 1920s. Scholars in the fields of art, architecture, and film history offered a deeper understanding of the relationship between art and the modern urban experience that defined this significant chapter in the history of art.

Exhibition Support

Léger: Modern Art and the Metropolis was generously supported by The Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Bruce and Robbi Toll, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Annenberg Foundation Fund for Major Exhibitions, Sotheby’s, Mitchell L. and Hilarie L. Morgan, and an anonymous donor, and by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. Promotional support has been provided by the Museum’s broadcast media sponsor, NBC 10 WCAU, and by the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, Atout France, Sunoco, IKEA, DesignPhiladelphia, and Reading Terminal Market.

Community

Curator Anna Vallye with exhibition visitor John Lithgow, who holds an exhibition Family Guide.

6,000 Family Guides were distributed at the entrance to the exhibition, with looking questions and activities for children to engage with the works of art on display.

“This exhibition sets out to prove that from 1918 to 1928, Léger — an innately gregarious type to begin with — had a lot of company, and by extension that culture is a collective project. It does so with terrific

exuberance.” - Roberta Smith, The New York Times, October 17, 2013


The Museum’s award-winning Division of Education and Public Programs, in collaboration with the Modern and Contemporary Art department, developed an exciting lineup of activities for children and families, students and teachers, and community members of all ages to engage with the spirit and art of the exhibition. +

Opening celebration – A French-themed soirée was cohosted by the Board of Trustees and the Young Friends of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (a group of young adults committed to promoting the arts in Philadelphia) on October 10. Guests enjoyed tours of the exhibition, cabaret music, and other performances.

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Teacher workshops – Fifty two teachers participated in an exhibition preview on October 18, including a lecture by the curator, to learn how to connect themes in the exhibition to classroom curricula. On November 13, 15 teachers joined us for the “Get Your Creative On” workshop, with opportunities to view the exhibition and take inspiration from the paintings of cityscapes to create their own works of art in the studio.

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Film series – Distinguished filmmakers, artists, and scholars presented a selection of pivotal avant-garde films from the silent era and explored their relevance to modern and contemporary art from the 1920s to today during PayWhat-You-Wish Wednesday nights.

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Concerts – The “Three Musicians” concert on November 9 showcased the opening movement from Debussy’s influential string quartet, setting the stage for works by Ravel and Stravinsky from 1920s Paris.

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Monday school tours – A total of 1,367 students visited the Museum for guided tours and engaged in gallery lessons on Mondays, when the exhibition was closed to the public.

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Every Family Party: Cityscapes – The theme for the 16th annual Every Family Party was inspired by the exhibition and influenced every one of the 14 art activities and interactive performances on offer. More than 800 children and their grown-ups took part in the family-friendly event on November 9. Through the generosity of sponsors and ticket buyers, complimentary admission and transportation were provided to 173 guests from six community organizations that would have otherwise been unable to afford to attend, including Project H.O.M.E. and


the Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia. +

Symposium – “Reconsidering Paris in the 1920s: Fernand Léger in an Expanded Context” was the theme for the Fifth Annual Anne d’Harnoncourt Symposium on November 15 and 16. Organized by the History of Art department of the University of Pennsylvania and the Museum, the symposium explored the lively experimentation across the arts in jazz-age Paris.

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Accessible programs – Guides brought Léger: Modern Art and the Metropolis into hospitals, nursing homes, and mental health centers, through slide presentations and hands-on teaching kits, for a total of 677 individuals.

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Mini-course – A two-lecture art history course titled “Transforming Paris Van Gogh: From Impressionism to Post-Impressionism” examined the transformation of Paris in the nineteenth century from a medieval city to a metropolis defined by its wide boulevards, green spaces, and modern infrastructure.

Technology While Léger’s art captured the sights and sounds of Paris in the 1920s, Museum staff sought to engage the public through a variety of channels. +

The Museum website featured pages focusing on the exhibition, the artist, a chronology of his life, and the exhibition publication. There were 69,011 unique page views during the run of the exhibition (82,773 total).

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A gallery tour video created by Blue State Digital was available on the Museum website and iTunes and received 31,000 views.

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Social media posts further promoted the exhibition on Facebook (75,882 followers), Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter (74,111 followers) using the hashtag #legerinthecity. (Followers as of February 4, 2014)

“Many of the greatest names of one of the most experimental eras in art are present: Alexander Archipenko, Jacques Lipchitz, Marcel Duchamp and Robert and Sonia Delaunay.” - Philip Kennicott, The Washington Post, November 15, 2013


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Through Living Social, a deal-of-the-day website, 1,265 tickets were purchased. This was just one of the promotional opportunities available through partner organizations, with a total of 5,300 tickets redeemed overall.

Press The exhibition received significant coverage in regional, national and international press, as well as on a number of blogs, websites, and in social media. +

2paragraphs.com

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METRO Philadelphia

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34th Street Magazine

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Modern Art Notes

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360 Magazine

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Montgomery News/Art Matters

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6ABC/Action News

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My Magical Attic (blog)

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AiringNews.com

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NealsPaper.com

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Al Dia

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Oxford University Press / OUP Blog

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Antiques and Fine Arts / AFAmews.com

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Philadelphia Daily News / Philly.com

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Architectural Digest / Daily AD

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Philadelphia Daily News Weekend

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Architizer.com

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Philadelphia Inquirer / Philly.com

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Art Actuel

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Philadelphia Magazine

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Art & Antiques

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Philadelphia Magazine (blog)

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Artes Magazine

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Philebrity.com

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Art Eyewitness

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Polish Daily Times

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Art Fix Daily

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Racked.com

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Artforum

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RC Altee blog / To Live Well

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ArtInfo.com

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Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

ArtMuseumTouring.com + School Group Tour Magazine “If pictorial expression has changed, it is because modern life has necessitated it…The view through the door of the railroad car or the automobile windshield, in combination with the speed, has altered the habitual look of things. A modern man registers a hundred times more sensory impressions than an eighteenth-century artist…The compression of the modern picture, its variety, its breaking up of forms, are the result of all this. ” +

- Fernand Léger, 1914


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Art News

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Studio International

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Baltimore Style

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The Art Blog

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Baltimore Sun

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The Architect’s Newspaper

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Big Think

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The Art Newspaper

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Bloomberg News

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The Boston Globe

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CBSLocal.com

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The Georgetowner

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Courier Post

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The Hunt Magazine (Brandywine Valley)

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Delaware County Times

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The Intelligencer (Doylestown PA)

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EllenBoyersKwatnoski.com

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Everett Potter Travel Report

The New Criterion – reprinted in the journalist’s blog, Too Much Art

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Financial Times

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The New York Times

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Flying Kite

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The Philadelphia News / ThePhilaNews.com

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Forbes Magazine / Forbes.com

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The Scene / Cumberland County (PA) Sentinel

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France Amerique.com

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The Washington Post

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Huffington Post

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The Week, New York

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Keystone Edge (from NY Times review)

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Uwishunu

La Presse

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Wall Street Journal

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La Salle Collegian

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WHYY-FM / Newsworks

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L’Orient le jour

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Wicked Local / News from the Hudson Sun

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Los Angeles Times (from Baltimore Sun article)

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YupNet.org

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Main Line Times

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Manhattan Arts

Marketing and Media Placements In an effort to share this exhibition on the broadest scale possible, an aggressive and wide-ranging marketing plan was executed by the Executive Director of Marketing and the Communications team.


PRINT

Media Outlet

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Website

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Placement type

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RADIO

CINEMA/TELEVISIO N

ONLINE

OUTDOOR

Septa rail cards CCD street canners Titan bus sides


Bus shelters Clear channel billboards Airport dioramas (printed) Lenfest billboard Parkway sign PMA east faรงade Trolley wrap

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