Chaos and Classicism: Art in France, Italy, and Germany, 1918–1936, an exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum guest curated by New York University Art History Professor Kenneth Silver, is the first exhibition in the United States to explore the classicizing aesthetic that followed the immense destruction of World War I.
The exhibition (through January 9, 2011) examines the interwar period in its key artistic manifestations: the poetic dream of antiquity in the Parisian avant-garde of Fernand Léger and Pablo Picasso; the politicized revival of the Roman Empire under Benito Mussolini by artists such as Giorgio de Chirico and Mario Sironi; and the functionalist utopianism at the Bauhaus as well as the chilling aesthetics of nascent Nazi society. This presentation of the transformation in French, Italian, and German contemporary culture encompasses painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, film, fashion, and the decorative arts.
The New York Times calls the exhibition “engrossing” and “a survey-style piece of investigative history with a bomb ticking away inside.”
Silver will discuss the exhibition as part of a roundtable discussion hosted by NYU’s La Maison Française on Thursday, December 2, 7 p.m. (16 Washington Mews at University Place). Discussants include: Molly Nolan, a professor in NYU’s Department of History; Ara Merjian, an assistant professor in NYU’s Department of Art History; and Francine Goldenhar, director, Maison Française (moderator). For further information about this event, which is free and open to the public, call 212.998.8750 or visit www.nyu.edu/maisonfrancaise.
Other contributors to the exhibition include: Helen Hsu, curatorial assistant, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Vivien Greene, curator of 19th- and early-20th-century art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; and Karole Vail, assistant curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
Silver is the recipient of the Prix du Livre, Beaux Arts, Paris as well as grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Getty Research Institute, and the ACLS. He is adjunct curator at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, and was recently awarded the rank of chevalier, or knight, in France’s Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for his contributions to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world.