From 12 September 2015 to 17 January 2016, EYE presented Michelangelo Antonioni – Il maestro del cinema moderno, an exhibition about one of the foremost innovators in film from the last century. The exhibition showed how Antonioni renewed the grammar of film by thinking in terms of the image and less in terms of narrative. He was one of the first film authors who tried to capture the state of mind of characters searching for meaning by framing them in a particular way in a striking mise-en-scène. “Each square centimetre of the image is essential,” asserted Antonioni. The exhibition contained film fragments, photos by press photographers from Magnum, set photos, letters from Marcello Mastroianni, Jeanne Moreau and Umberto Eco, and paintings by Antonioni.
With his famous trilogy L’avventura (1960), La notte (1961) and L’eclisse (1962) – all featuring his muse Monica Vitti – Antonioni became one of the leading directors of the last century. A stylistic perfectionist, he renewed the grammar of film. He conveyed estrangement and faltering communication between lovers with sophisticated mise-en-scène and wonderfully framed, desolate shots of industrial and desert landscapes. Narrative, dialogue and action were of lesser importance to him
L’avventura (1960) ranks as a turning point in the history of film and the start of modern cinema. The director succeeded in translating the sense of malaise among the affluent middle class into oppressive images. It was deemed outrageous that, during a boat trip right at the start of L’avventura, the celebrated actress Lea Massari was made to disappear from the story. The film received fierce criticism at its premiere in Cannes, where leading actress Monica Vitti left the screening in tears. Nonetheless — after a campaign of support from fellow directors who immediately recognized the importance of the film – the film still won the jury prize.
After Il deserto rosso (1964), unhappy with the political climate and mood of lethargy in his home country, the director left Italy to make films abroad. He was nominated for Oscars for Best Director and Scenario for his box-office hit Blow-up (1966). Set in Swinging London, the film is about a paranoid fashion photographer and the impossibility of knowing the truth, with music by The Yardbirds and Herbie Hancock. He then left for the United States, where he made Zabriskie Point (1970), a sociocritical film shot in the Death Valley desert with a soundtrack that included Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones. Both films are powerful portraits of their time, effectively capturing the emerging pop culture and social dissatisfaction of the era. Antonioni went on to direct the sensual Identificazione di una donna (1982, Golden Palm nomination) and Al di là delle nuvole (1995, co-directed by Wim Wenders).
about the exhibition
Michelangelo Antonioni – Il maestro del cinema moderno presented a selection of the many private documents preserved by the Gallerie d'arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Museo Michelangelo Antonioni di Ferrara. The exhibition offered insight into his work and showed how Antonioni changed the language of film for good.
The exhibition contained film excerpts, photographs taken on sets by Bruce Davidson (Magnum) among others, press articles, original scenarios and letters (by Alain Delon, Italo Calvino, Marcello Mastroianni, Jeanne Moreau, Roland Barthes, Luchino Visconti, Umberto Eco, Giorgio Morandi and more). Also on display were paintings by Antonioni as well as excerpts from early Antonioni documentaries – Gente del Po and N.U. - Nettezza Urbana – and the documentary made by Antonioni in 1972 at the invitation of the Chinese Communist Party.
about the artist
Michelangelo Antonioni (1912-2007) started his career during the Second World War when he co-wrote scenarios for Roberto Rossellini and worked as an assistant director for Marcel Carné. In 1951 he made his directing debut with the film noir Cronaca di un amore. He later shifted from realistic representation to a more philosophical style. Antonioni probed the human soul and did it in a totally innovative manner.
With the trilogy L’avventura (1960), La notte (1961) and L’eclisse (1962), followed by Blow-up (1966) and Professione: reporter (1975, with Jack Nicholson), Antonioni reinforced his position as a prominent director. In Il deserto rosso (1964), his first film in colour and set in the industrial, misty landscape of the Po Valley, he even added paint to lawns and trees to intensify the colours. He later received an Honorary Oscar for his entire body of work.
The exhibition is curated by Dominique Païni in collaboration with Jaap Guldemond, Director of Exhibitions/Curator EYE, with the assistance of Maria Luisa Pacelli (Director, Gallerie d’arte moderna e contemporanea di Ferrara) and Barbara Guidi (Chief curator, Gallerie d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Ferrara).
Exhibition concept by Fondazione Ferrara Arte and Gallerie d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea-Museo Michelangelo Antonioni di Ferrara, in collaboration with Fondazione Cinetecca di Bologna.
- Director of exhibitions / Curator: Jaap Guldemond
- Associate Curator: Marente Bloemheuvel
- Project Managers: Sanne Baar, Claartje Opdam
- Exhibition Design: Claus Wiersma
- Graphic Design: Joseph Plateau, Amsterdam
- Technical Production: Indyvideo, Utrecht
- Installation: Landstra & De Vries, Amsterdam
- Light Design: Theatermachine, Amsterdam
films, talks, events
Accompanying the exhibition was an extensive programme of films, talks and events in the auditoriums.
From A to Z
filmMichelangelo Antonioni, 1966
filmMichelangelo Antonioni, 1950
filmMichelangelo Antonioni, 1957
filmMichelangelo Antonioni, 1960
filmMichelangelo Antonioni, 1961
filmMichelangelo Antonioni, 1953