Dante Ferretti: Design and Construction for the Cinema, MoMA, New York

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) honours Italian production designer Dante Ferretti (b. 1943) with an exhibition and film programme exploring his design practice, concept art, and original set pieces from the films that earned him three Academy Awards. The exhibition Dante Ferretti: Design and Construction for the Cinema will feature the chandeliers from Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salò, or The 120 Days of Sodom (1975) and the massive, illuminated clock from Martin Scorsese’s Hugo (2011), as well as sculptural objects created for the Venice Film Festival. The centerpiece of the exhibition is a 12-screen labyrinth installed in the Roy and Niuta Titus theater lobby galleries, onto which designs from numerous Ferretti films will be projected. The exhibition runs from 28 September 2013 to 9 February 2014.

Running in conjunction with the exhibition is a six-month retrospective of 22 films featuring the production designer’s career-defining work. This film programme, Dante Ferretti: Designing for the Big Screen opens on 25 September 2013 and will run until 9 February 2014 at The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters, screening Scorsese’s Gangs of New York (2002), Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), and Federico Fellini’s Ginger e Fred (1986), for which Ferretti’s sets helped to guide directorial practice with signature distinction. The film retrospective explores Ferretti’s role in conceiving for each project a single set piece intended to stimulate the director’s imagination and crystallise the visual style and character of the film.

Since 1969 Ferretti has served as the production designer on over 50 feature films, 24 opera productions, and over a dozen television, museum, fashion, festival, and publication projects, working with the likes of fashion icon Valentino and directors Liliana Cavani and David Cronenberg, among others. Indulging his preference for both dreamlike and historical subjects, Ferretti drew on his knowledge of painting, sculpture, and poetry to produce his well-renowned set designs. As digital technology transforms the way films are staged, replacing the real with the virtual, Ferretti’s work comes at what may be the end of a 100-year-long tradition of full-scale, studio-built environments for films.

MoMA’s exhibition, Dante Ferretti: Design and Construction for the Cinema also serves to document this transitioning of cinema practice through its selection and organisation of drawings, large-scale installations, and digital projection. Sketches, drawings, and design objects are installed throughout the three floors to further illuminate the artistic practice of one of the masters of the craft.

Presented in collaboration with Luce Cinecittà, Rome, the exhibition and film programme are organized by Ron Magliozzi, Associate Curator, and Jytte Jensen, Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art; with Antonio Monda, author and professor, New York University; and Marina Sagona, artist.

For more information visit www.moma.org

1. Hugo. 2011. USA. Directed by Martin Scorsese. Image courtesy Paramount/Photofest.