“Léger: Modern Art and the Metropolis”

Philadelphia Museum of Art
26th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway
October 14, 2013–January 5, 2014

Curated by Anna Vallye

If Baudelaire’s generation first proposed metropolitan life as a fitting subject for art, it was not until the interwar years that the urban environment was codified as a graphic style. At the center of this transformation was a single canvas: Fernand Léger’s The City, 1919. In this mural-scale painting, the metropolis becomes one in substance and signifier, its essence reduced to a spectacular shorthand cribbed from the billboards and music halls of Paris’s Place de Clichy. This seminal work is the focal point of “Léger: Modern Art and the Metropolis,”which tracks Léger’s dialogue during the 1920s with a generation of artists, designers, and filmmakers, including Gerald Murphy, A. M. Cassandre, and Abel Gance. Comprising roughly 160 works and accompanied by a major scholarly catalogue, this exhibition provides a welcome occasion to rethink art’s image of—and impact on—the modern anthroposphere.

Travels to the Museo Correr, Venice, Feb.–May 2014.