Tribute to Leonardo
The Museo del Novecento celebrates Leonardo da Vinci through the perspective of Lucio Fontana, looking at his work and reinterpreting it. The exhibition “Lucio Fontana. Tribute to Leonardo”, curated by Davide Colombo and displayed into the Fontana hall – the very core of the permanent path devoted to the artist – provides a new look on the Renaissance master through the works on paper and ceramic sculptures created by Lucio Fontana from the 30s to the early 50s.
Horses, horsemen and battles are rising from Fontana's dynamic and lively lines, directly looking at Leonardo's studies for the famous “Battaglia di Anghiari” [Battle of Anghiari] and several equestrian statues.
Included into the “Milano Leonardo 500” program, promoted and coordinated by the City of Milan on the occasion of the 500th anniversary from Leonardo da Vinci's death, the exhibition is inspired by the “Mostra di Leonardo e delle Invenzioni Italiane” [Exhibition of Leonardo and of the Italian Inventions] show. Inaugurated on May 9 1939 at the Palazzo dell'Arte of Milan, its entry hall – designed by the architects Giovanni Muzio and Carlo Bruni Negri – was enriched by the “Cavallo rampante dorato” [Golden Rearing Horse] by Lucio Fontana, which resumed Leonardo's sketches for the “Battaglia di Anghiari”. The theme also emerges from the “Cavallo e cavaliere” [Horse and Horseman] chalk study presented by Fontana at the Competition for the V Gate of the Dome of Milan in 1952, here exhibited.
Rearing horses, warriors, horsemen and sea horses – displayed in different formal and chromatic reinterpretations - enliven Fontana hall, in an ideal chronological pattern leading to the “Neon structure” created for the IX Milan Triennale in 1951, also related to the Palazzo dell'Arte.
Leonardo da Vinci's tribute, five hundred years after his death, is not only focused on the iconographic confrontation between rearing horses and battle studies: the exhibition does not fail to reflect on the experimental approach connecting the two artists. The poet and art critic Emilio Villa was the first one introducing a methodological comparison. In his introduction to the volume “Lucio Fontana. 20 disegni con una prefazione di Duilio Morosini” [Lucio Fontana. 20 Sketches With a Preface by Duilio Morosini] published by Edizioni Corrente, concerning the 1936 “Battle” sketch, he stated that Fontana is “among our artists the liveliest talent of simplicity, the one who more persistently recalls an endless Leonardesque vision: 'Everything in nature is made by its shortest line'”.
The exhibition path is completed by a rich documentation of catalogues, photographs and magazines concerning the 1939 exhibition.