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Léger: Modern Art and the Metropolis
October 14, 2013 - January 5, 2014
The City
The City, 1919
Fernand Léger, French
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Léger: Modern Art and the Metropolis
October 14, 2013 - January 5, 2014
This interdisciplinary exhibition will shed new light on the vitally experimental decade of the 1920s in Paris when the great French modernist Fernand Léger (1881-1955) played a leading role in redefining the practice of painting by bringing it into active engagement with the urban environment and modern mass media. This will be the first exhibition to take as its inspiration and focus Léger’s monumental painting The City (1919), a cornerstone of the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s collection and a landmark in the history of modern art, placing it in dialogue with the urban art and culture of modernity.

Gallery Tour

The exhibition will present a core group of Léger’s exceptional paintings on the theme of the city, along with film projections, theater designs, architectural models, and print and advertising designs by the artist and his contemporaries. In a multi-media installation of more than 120 works, including loans from American and European public and private collections, this exhibition will demonstrate the varied strategies through which artists and designers of the European avant-garde, with Léger in the lead, sought to participate in the complexity and excitement of the metropolis. The exhibition will also feature work by Cassandre, Robert and Sonia Delaunay, Theo van Doesburg, Alexandra Exter, Abel Gance, Le Corbusier, Piet Mondrian, Gerald Murphy, Francis Picabia, Man Ray, and many others.


The exhibition is generously supported by The Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Bruce and Robbi Toll, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Annenberg Foundation Fund for Major Exhibitions, Sotheby’s, Mitchell L. and Hilarie L. Morgan, and an anonymous donor, and by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

Promotional support has been provided by the Museum’s broadcast media sponsor, NBC 10 WCAU, and by the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, Atout France, Sunoco, IKEA, DesignPhiladelphia, and Reading Terminal Market.


Anna Vallye, Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow in Modern and Contemporary Art


Dorrance Special Exhibition Galleries, first floor