April 20, 2011 - Guggenheim Bilbao - Chaos and Classicism
April 20, 2011

Chaos and Classicism

Chaos and Classicism:
Art in France, Italy, Germany, and Spain, 1918–1936

22 February–15 May 2011

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
Avenida Abandoibarra, 2
48001 Bilbao Bizkaia


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Chaos and Classicism: Art in France, Italy, Germany, and Spain, 1918–1936 is an exhibition that focuses on the vast transformation in European culture between the world wars. Sponsored by Fundación BBVA, the exhibition will be on view at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao from February 22 through May 15, 2011.

Rising from the horror of the war, European artists sought a return to order and an embrace of rational organization and enduring values, in contrast with the prewar emphasis on innovation by all means. As a consequence, during the interwar period, the balance and force of classical forms engendered a fusion of modernity and antiquity, turning away from the two-dimensional abstract spaces and fragmentation of Cubism, Futurism, Expressionism, and other avant-garde movements of the early 20th century.

With more than 150 works by more than 90 artists, comprising painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, film, fashion, and the decorative arts, this exhibition examines the return to order in the interwar period in Europe. Chaos and Classicism presents works by established masters of the first half of the 20th century, including Georges Braque, Carlo Carrà, Giorgio de Chirico, Otto Dix, Pablo Gargallo, Fernand Léger, Aristide Maillol, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Pablo Picasso, Gio Ponti, Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann, and August Sander.

Chaos and Classicism: Art if France, Italy, Germany, and Spain, 1918–1936 is organized by New York University Professor of Modern Art Kenneth E. Silver, a renowned authority on European art between the wars, assisted by Helen Hsu, Assistant Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, with Vivien Greene, Curator of 19th- and Early-20th- Century Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, as curatorial adviser.

Bilbao Exhibition Overview
The years after World War I were marked by a striking modernist avowal of traditional aesthetics: a retour à l’ordre (return to order) in France, a ritorno al mestiere (return to craft) in Italy, and Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) in Germany.

This exhibition, which was widely acclaimed at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, examines the return to order in its key manifestations: the poetic dream of antiquity in the Parisian avant-garde; the politicized revival of the Roman Empire under Benito Mussolini; the functionalist utopianism of International Style architecture that originated at the Bauhaus; and, ultimately, the chilling aesthetic of nascent Nazi society. In line with European trends, in Spain there was also a classicist restoration, despite its having not participated in the First World War. The show in Bilbao adds some twenty works by outstanding Spanish artists, some who resided abroad and others who remained in Spain, creating art in line with the new times.

Curated by:
Kenneth E. Silver, Professor of Modern Art, New York University; Helen Hsu and Vivien Greene, Assistant Curator and Curator of 19th- and Early 20th-Century Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Sponsored by: Fundación BBVA

Chaos and Classicism
Guggenheim Bilbao
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