PARIS.- This Fellini exhibition at the Jeu de Paume provides an opportunity to reconsider the topicality of his films. It sets out to explore the world and sources of inspiration of this director whose name has entered everyday speech in the form of an adjective, Fellinian or Felliniesque, which evokes eccentricity and the baroque or grotesque parade of human foibles. The material surrounding his work is indeed particularly rich in discoveries and surprises. Juxtaposed with video excerpts, it conveys a vivid idea of the artist at work. Federico Fellini’s forty-year career was one of constant change. On exhibition through 17 January, 2010.
He started out with Neorealismo, assisting Rossellini on 'Roma, città apertà' (Open City, 1945) and 'Paisa' (Paisan, 1946). He made an almost divine appearance as Saint Joseph alongside Anna Magnani in Rossellini’s 'Il Miracolo' (1948) for which also wrote the script. As a directed, he was labeled a “Catholic realist” for 'La Strada' (1954), thereby drawing critical fire from the Left and anger at his “betrayal.” These roles were reversed with 'La Dolce Vita', when the latter hailed him as a genius while the Church brandished excommunication.
As for Fellini himself, he was simply busy overturning the rules of storytelling, deconstructing narrative, and rethinking cinema. He pursued his career as a free man, independent of schools and tendencies. He took another big step with '8 ½' (1963), as his ideas about cinema and creative processes led him to go beyond the frontiers of the real to explore the mysterious world of the imaginary. Childhood memories, the unconscious and dreams now entered into his work to spectacular effect, to the point where they actually dictated Fellini’s directing style. From now on, Fellini himself would be one of the recurring subjects of his films in a meta-cinema that certainly played its part in constructing the Fellini myth.
“Fellini, la Grande Parade” analyzes the creation of the Fellini myth. To this end, Sam Stourdzé has amassed a great quantity of photographs, drawings and films that have never been shown before. He has collected items from scattered sources, tracked down most of the photographers who worked on Fellini’s films and trawled the archives of Fellini’s collaborators.
Carefully avoiding the hagiographic approach, Stourdzé has chosen to break free of chronology and instead to approach Fellini via his obsessions. This exhibition will focus exclusively on images: the images that inspired Fellini, the images he dreamed of, and the images he made. By juxtaposing these images and exploring the relations between them in what is a boldly contemporary display, it sets up a dialogue between photography and film, between still and moving images.
“Fellini, la Grande Parade” is a kind of visual laboratory, a show that not only sets out to refresh our readings of the filmmaker’s work, but also confronts and explores the issues involved in exhibiting cinema. There are also moments when the focus pulls back from Fellini’s films to consider the century in which he lived and worked. For the 20th-century was the century of cinema, but also of the press, of television and advertising: it was, in a word, the century of the image or, more precisely, the century of image-making.
“Fellini, la Grande Parade” is organized in four main sequences: "Fellini and Popular Culture"; "Fellini at work"; "City of Women… and Man’s Role"; and "Fellini and the Invention of a Biography".
Within these sequences visitors will find a number of thematic modules reflecting the themes that shape Fellini’s work, and that fascinated or obsessed the man. These include music hall and circus, caricature, photo-novels, sea monsters, rock-n-roll, the recreation of reality at Cinecittà, woman in all her polymorphous splendor, the ambivalence of religious feeling, reality vs. the imagination, psychoanalysis and dreams, Fellini’s relation to the media, his fascination with illustrated magazines, his loathing of television, his contempt for advertising (although he actually made three commercials!), and Fellini the inventor of words (paparazzi, Dolce Vita).
The exhibition comprises a selection of photographs, drawings, magazines and posters as well as excerpts from films, test strips, edited scenes, home movies, newsreels and interviews. Some of these works and documents are being shown for the first time.
Fellini and photography archives
Fellini had close relationships with a good number of photographers, who worked with him on his projects. Today, their pictures constitute a kind of guide to the backstage workings of Fellini’s art. The exhibition features photographs by: Gidion Bachmann, Deborah Beer, Mimmo Cattarinich, Ampelio Ciolfi, Osvaldo Civarini, Michangelo Durazzo, Pierluigi, Franco Pinna, GB Poletto, Paul Ronald and Tazio Secchiaroli, as well as color photos taken by Paul Ronald during the shoot of '8 ½' and the previously unseen work of Deborah Beer on 'City of Women', 'Ginger and Fred' and 'The Ship Sails On'.
In order to set up a genuine dialogue between fixed and moving images, a specially designed series of screens and projections will present excerpts and montages of Fellini’s work, as well as test strips, cut scenes, home movies and contemporary newsreels. Alongside the known film excerpts, noteworthy additions include a previously unseen amateur film from the shoot of 'La Dolce Vita', and bogus advertisements made by Fellini for Ginger and Fred...
Book of dreams
Between 1960 and 1990, on the advice of the Jungian psychoanalyst Ernest Bernhard, Fellini drew and described his dreams, filling two large albums. Their pages take us through nearly 30 years of the director’s fantasies and anxieties. This remarkable document, an incredible reserve of forms that fed constantly into his films, is being exhibited in France for the first time.
Parallel to the presentation of "Book of Dreams", a selection of Fellini’s drawings, some of them never seen before, can be viewed as a set of preparatory studies.
La Dolce Vita press books
Released in 1960, 'La Dolce Vita' was massively controversial, with the film’s supporters and detractors arguing it out in the press while the public flocked to the cinemas. 'Pathé', the film’s French producer, collected all the cuttings in a set of large-size albums that are being shown here for the first time.
Magazines contributed greatly to Fellini’s star status, but they also provided the director with an important source of inspiration. A selection of original publications from the 1950s and 60s – 'L’Espresso', 'Tempo', 'Domenica del Corriere' – gives an idea of the visual context in which Fellini worked and, in some cases, indicate the sources for some of his material.
The poster is a means of communication whose effectiveness is based on the immediacy of its message. A selection of original posters from Italy, France and America conveys the evolution of Fellini’s image and the varying reception of his work.
Visit Jeu de Paume at : www.jeudepaume.org/