Events & Exhibitions / GAM
APOLLINAIRE AND THE “SURRÉALISTE” INVENTION.
The Poet and His Friends in Avant-garde Paris
curated by Maria Teresa Roberto
with Virginia Bertone, Franca Bruera, and Marilena Pronesti
One hundred years after his death on November 9, 1918, GAM’s Wunderkammer project pays homage to the figure of Guillaume Apollinaire, a key player on the Parisian art and literary scene during the 1910s, the inventor of new forms of poetry and theatre, a defender of Cubist practices, and an attentive admirer of Futurists and De Chirico.
Held in concomitance with the exhibition Dal nulla al sogno. Dada e Surrealismo dalla Collezione del Museo Boijmans Van Beuningen, promoted by the Fondazione Ferrero in Alba, the show offers significant background to these trends.
The drawings, letters, and documents evoke the network of relationships that joined writers and painters close to Apollinaire, with particular attention to the figure of André Salmon, who was also an early enthusiast of Picasso and Cubist aesthetics.
In the circles of the magazines Les Soirées de Paris, SIC, and Nord-Sud, a pivotal role was played by the Russian-born cousins Serge Férat and Hélène di Œttingen, who between 1913 and 1914 supported the publication of the second series of Les Soirées de Paris in which Apollinaire paid special attention to new art trends.
The exhibition documents the friendships and artistic activities of Férat and Œttingen, especially through the Cubist-style stage and costume sketches made by Férat for Les Mamelles de Tirésias by Apollinaire, a gender-bending grotesque drama.
In the introduction, Apollinaire once again uses the neologism surréaliste, which he coined a few weeks before for the presentation of the ballet Parade, with the goal of radically bypassing all forms of naturalism.
The encounters between De Chirico, his brother the writer/musician Alberto Savinio, and Apollinaire became more frequent, starting in 1914, when, in a review, he interpreted the Italian artist’s paintings in a way that revealed the “fatal character of modern things.” De Chirico gifted him with the portrait Surrealists would later view in a premonitory manner, identifying the target that appears on the dark figure in the background as an omen of the lethal wound to Apollinaire’s head while fighting as a soldier in 1916.
In 1930, De Chirico wanted to commemorate his Parisian friend by illustrating (through a series of lithographs) the precious Gallimard edition – on display here – of the Calligrammes, the poetic-visual compositions “of war and of peace” created by Apollinaire between 1913 and 1916, the complete collection of which was published for the first time in April 1918.
The exhibition’s timeline itinerary is opened and closed by two major works from the GAM collections, the artists of which were joined to Apollinaire by an intimate bond of esteem and friendship: Nord-Sud (1913) by Gino Severini and L’isola portatile (1930) by Alberto Savinio.
The exhibition is made possible by the generous contribution of the Fondazione Ferrero in Alba.