Centre Pompidou-Metz announces 1917

Centre Pompidou-Metz presents 1917 a multidisciplinary exhibition, on view 26 May 2012–24 September 2012 that investigates the fundamental question of artistic creation in wartime. Originating with Picasso’s creation of his largest work, the stage curtain for the ballet Parade, in 1917, the exhibition examines artistic production of that crucial year in light of historical facts and their impacts on the lives of the artists.

Pablo Picasso, Stage curtain for the ballet Parade, 1917. Tempera on canvas. 1,050 × 1,640 cm. Centre Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris. Purchased 1955. © Picasso Estate, 2012. Photo © Christian Bahier and Philippe Migeat – Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI /Dist. RMN-GP

1917 offers an instant view of every field of creativity during this year of the First World War. It asks what such a narrow, precise context as a single year might mean for creative activity, while avoiding the pitfalls of expectations and assumptions as to the nature of wartime art. By focusing on one year in the 20th century, 1917 also explores a rarely attempted, original exhibition format.

1917 testifies to the extreme diversity of its artistic production. Presented on over 2300 square meters and in two sections, the exhibition conveys this diversity by mapping the various positions of the artists relative to the battlefront, and subsequently their degree of physical, psychological, symbolical or intellectual involvement in the issues of war.

Alongside masters such as Brancusi, Dix, Duchamp, Kandinsky, Matisse, Monet, or Nevinson, were amateur artists who felt the need to respond to the trials of war through creative expression such as Trench art, examples of which are a high point of the exhibition. Equally important are the war artists who were sent to the front to record its events, and the many individuals who, as eyewitnesses, expressed their memory of the conflict for posterity.

From physical and psychological destruction and rebuilding through self-portraiture, to the confusion between gender, and the transformation associated with camouflage, two major figures arise: the Harlequin and the stage curtain for the ballet Parade, whose monumental format and remarkable presentation constitute the climax of the exhibition. This masterpiece by Picasso was last shown in 2004 in Hong Kong and is shown in France for the first time in over twenty years.

The exhibition gathers works from public, private, art, and military collections, both French and international. Foremost among these are the many works drawn from the collection of the Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne. 1917 also benefits from partnerships with the Bibliothèque de Documentation Internationale Contemporaine (Nanterre), the Établissement de communication et de production audiovisuelle de la défense (Ivry-sur-Seine), the musée de l’Armée (Paris), the musée du Service de Santé des Armées (Paris), the Historial de la Grande Guerre (Péronne) and the Imperial War Museums (London).

1917 is endorsed by the Ministry of Defence and Ex-Servicemen. The exhibition is the first in a series of cultural events about the Great War leading up to international commemorations of the centennial of the First World War.

A 600 page catalogue will be published to coincide with the opening of the exhibition, followed by a symposium in September 2012.

A programme of films, lectures and performances will run alongside the exhibition, such as a cine-concert by Jeff Mills scheduled for 26 May 2012.

Claire Garnier, Curator, Centre Pompidou-Metz
Laurent Le Bon, Curator, Director, Centre Pompidou-Metz

Centre Pompidou-Metz
1, parvis des Droits-de-l’Homme

CS 90490
57020 Metz Cedex 1
T +33 (0)3 87 15 39 39

[email protected]

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