Sets Symbol

A new exhibition at the Estoriock Collection in London highlights the strong Modernist influence present in a series of glamorous set designs, originating from a little-known period of Italian cinematic history.

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Gastone Medin Set design for Due cuori felici (Two Happy Hearts; Dir. Baldassarre Negroni, 1932) Gelatin silver print on paper, 17 x 23 cm (Photographer: attributed to Aurelio Pesce) Fondazione Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia – Cineteca Nazionale

You might be forgiven for thinking that these luscious interiors, immortalised in black and white photographs, appeared in the architecture journals of the day. Not so, these interiors were created to be backdrops for a number of romantic comedies made in Italy during the inter-war years.

These fascinating photographs, which go on show at the Estorick Collection in April, explore a little-known period of Italian cinematic history, and highlight the strong Modernist influence on design in the country at that time. This influence naturally spread to set design, and was an approach strongly favoured by the progressive production company Cines.


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Carlo Levi and Enrico Paulucci Set design for Patatrac (Dir. Gennaro Righelli, 1931) Gelatin silver print on paper, 17 x 23cm Collezione Museo Nazionale del Cinema, Turin

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Gastone Medin Set design for La casa del peccato (The House of Sin; Dir. Max Neufeld, 1938), with Assia Norris and Umberto Melnati Gelatin silver print on paper, 23.7 x 29.5 cm (Photographer: attributed to Aurelio Pesce) Fondazione Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia – Cineteca Nazionale

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Gastone Medin Set design for L’ultima avventura (The Last Adventure; Dir. Mario Camerini, 1932) Gelatin silver print on paper, 12 x 24.4 cm (Photographer: attributed to Aurelio Pesce) Fondazione Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia – Cineteca Nazionale

Rationalism on Set: Glamour and Modernity in 1930s Italian Cinema is curated by architect and curator at the RIBA Photographs Collection, Valeria Carullo. Clips from the most significant films will be on display, as well as images of contemporary architecture taken from the RIBA Collections, highlighting international influences such the Bauhaus. The show will also feature a selection of sketches and contemporary periodicals sourced from the Cineteca Nazionale, Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia (Rome), the Cineteca di Bologna, the Museo Nazionale del Cinema (Turin) and the RIBA Collections.

Why not go and see it at one of the Estorick's First Thursdays late opening evenings, along with an aperitivo?

estorickcollection.com

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Gastone Medin Set design for Due cuori felici (Two Happy Hearts; Dir. Baldassarre Negroni, 1932) Gelatin silver print on paper, 17 x 23 cm (Photographer: attributed to Aurelio Pesce) Fondazione Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia – Cineteca Nazionale

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Gastone Medin Set design for Cento di questi giorni (Many Happy Returns; Dir. Augusto and Mario Camerini, 1933) Gelatin silver print on paper, 14.7 x 23.9 cm Fondazione Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia – Cineteca Nazionale

Rationalism on Set: Glamour and Modernity in 1930s Italian Cinema
18 April – 24 June 2018

Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art
39a Canonbury Square London N1 2AN
estorickcollection.com

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Luisa Ferida in a publicity shot for the film L’argine (The Embankment; Dir. Corrado D’Errico, 1938) Set design by Carlo Enrico Rava and Salvo D’Angelo Gelatin silver print on paper 30 x 23.5 cm (Photography: Foto Pesce) Collezione Museo Nazionale del Cinema, Turin