MoMA at NGV: 130 Years of Modern and Contemporary Art is by far the exhibition of the year, featuring over 200 works from New York’s famous MoMA.
The collection is arranged chronologically into eight thematic sections, beginning with a Georges Seurat piece dated 1886 and arriving at a piece signed by the National Union of Sahrawi Women and Manuel Herz Architects in 2016.
Meandering through the exhibition, it’s difficult not to notice the significant evolution of how artists reflect the world surrounding them throughout the years, decades and centuries.
Nestled among the line-up of captivating masterpieces – on display until October 7 – are many created by Italian artists.
The first, and perhaps the most captivating, is the room dedicated to “The Machinery of the Modern World”.
The beginning of the 20th century saw the formation of many artistic movements in response to groundbreaking technological advances and the introduction of mass production.
The artistic pioneers of the era were Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, who led the Cubist movement, providing a new perspective on art and illustrating a fractured perspective of nature in a new society.
The room houses the works of futurist Italians, the first being Umberto Boccioni’s iconic bronze sculpture ‘Unique Forms of Continuity in Space’ (1913).
The sculpture symbolises movement and fluidity, and you can easily appreciate how Boccioni strayed from traditional ideals with what is considered one of the greatest pieces of Futurism.
If you observe the sculpture from one side, you’ll recognise a human-like figure in motion, with certain muscles and joints evident but no arms or discernible face.
However, if you look at the piece from the other side, your eyes will soon see a machine, rather than a human.
In the same room, you’ll find a work by Giacomo Balla, entitled ‘Flight of the Swallows’(1913).
In this piece, the artist depicts birds flying above his house on Rome’s Via Parioli at sunset.
The key words that describe this painting are “movement” and “velocity”, and futurists considered it an absolute priority to reflect reality via dynamic elements.
Continuing through the exhibition, you’ll enter a new section where you’ll be quick to notice, despite its reduced size, a painting by the surrealist Spanish Salvador Dalì entitled ‘The Persistence of Memory’ (1931).
The painting is considered one of Dalì’s best works and, astoundingly, he completed it in two hours while suffering from a headache.
The opposite wall is dedicated to surrealist and metaphysical artworks, including ‘Gare Montparnasse (The Melancholy of Departure)’ (1914) by Giorgio De Chirico.
The painting depicts a Parisian train station located not far from the artist’s studio.
It’s set in early 1914 just a few months before World War I broke out.
The work is a classic example of De Chirico’s style, depicting the outside of an architectural space with long shadows and intense colours.
The shadows and placement of objects create a detachment from reality, and these techniques went on to inspire the following generation of surrealist artists, including Max Ernst and René Magritte, which are both present in the same section of the exhibition.
Aside from these 20th century masterpieces, there are many contemporary Italian works to be admired.
One example is ‘What is Painting’ (1966) by John Baldessari, an American with Italian heritage.
Moving into the 1980s, you’ll find ‘Tuttuno’, by Internotredici Associati, which is a compact unit designed to combine storage, sleeping, and eating areas with a place for socialising and relaxing.
These masterpieces make up just a tiny part of an awe-inspiring exhibition which will transport all of its visitors to New York for a day.