From 30 June to 22 September, EYE presents a major exhibition on Federico Fellini, one of the most image-defining masters of post-war Italian cinema. 'Fellini – The Exhibition' unravels the filmmaker’s universe, taps into the sources of his fertile imagination and brings the vital power of his work into the limelight. 20 years after his death, large projected film fragments, photographs, archive documents and posters – from the EYE collection among others – provide insight into the obsessions and motivations of the man behind La strada, La dolce vita and 8½.
Federico Fellini (1920-1993), possibly the most famous filmmaker that Italy has ever produced, had a career that spans forty years. Those forty years yielded titles that have become forever ingrained in the memory of every film buff. The bellowing escape artist from La Strada (1954), the tormented high-society reporter from La dolce vita (1960), the tyrannical director with a whip from 8½ (1963) or the woman who lovingly clasps the young boy from the village between her large breasts: these figures have developed into archetypes of a universe that we have come to call ‘Fellinian’. A universe in which Fellini’s alter ego – played by Marcello Mastroianni on several occasions – turns up in ever changing guises and passes a parade of grotesque human weaknesses in revue.
Fellini - The Exhibition, arranged as a visual laboratory, reveals the sources of Fellini’s fertile imagination and shows how Fellini created a mythical image of himself and of Italian life both in his films and in the world at large. Moreover, the exhibition sheds light on the way in which he was able to break with the accepted linear narrative structure in his films, and how he addressed existential questions in a playful manner. Out of the film fragments, drawings and photographs, an image emerges of a man who constantly gave new interpretations to his youth, his dreams and the unconsciously evoked images and stories.
The exhibition includes fragments from the films, drawings made by Fellini, Fellini’s advertising films and the countless images from his dreams that inspired him – on the advice of psychoanalyst Ernest Bernhard, these were compiled into the texts and sketches of the ‘dream books’ (also on display).Furthermore, the exhibition brings together never previously-shown pictures by photographers such as Gideon Bachmann, Deborah Beer and Paul Ronald. Their behind-the-scenes photos illuminate the fantasy world of Cinecittà, the studio where Fellini shot virtually all his later films. An international selection of posters, several of which hail from the EYE collection, shows how Fellini himself tried to influence the public reception of his films over the years. Also on display are an array of magazines from the period 1960-1985 (Domenica and L’Espresso), which played an important role in forming the public image of the director, his films and the actors.
The exhibition places Fellini’s work in a broader perspective: the era in which he lived and worked. From the end of the 1950s, particularly in Italy, the mass media films, press, television and advertising were quick to win over the general public, which eagerly gorged on the all-pervading image. Fellini – not for nothing the deviser of the term ‘paparazzi’ in La dolce vita – anticipated at an early stage the influence that the media would exert on people’s behaviour and referred to this in his films (such as the enormous billboard with Anita Ekberg coming to life in the anthology film Boccacio ’70).