Sunday, December 30, 2007

Mark Rothko | Stanley Kubrick | Gregory Crewdson | Palazzo delle Esposizioni

Mark Rothko | Stanley Kubrick | Gregory Crewdson | Palazzo delle Esposizioni
After five long years the newly restored Palazzo delle Esposizioni on Via Nazionale reopened in October of this year and immediately reclaimed its position as Rome's finest exhibition centre. Queues have been long over the Christmas holidays with Romans and tourists alike rushing to catch the Rothko and Kubrick shows which close on 6th January 2008. Climbing up the steps to the main entrance and walking into the central main hall with its columns and immense domed ceiling is rather like walking into a cathedral – the perfect space, in fact, for Mark Rothko's large colour-field canvases. Placing the dazzling yellows and reds of the mid-career Untitled No.10 from the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum immediately opposite the entrance foyer allows the visitor the chance to really admire the painting from a long distance – in fact, the entire show makes maximum and skilful use of the large exhibition space. Looking right, the deep sea blues and greens of No.15 (Dark Green on Blue with Green Band) positively dazzle like an ocean-scape on another far end wall. On a smaller scale, Rothko's original sketch and notebooks are on display alongside their virtual copies allowing the viewer to browse through the entire book in digital format.

The retrospective by American photographer Gregory Crewdson was a total surprise and an added bonus. His unsettling photographs are meticulously staged scenes of American neighbourhoods that border on the surreal. Often inspired by the work of film-makers such as Spielberg or Lynch and featuring famous actors such as Julienne Moore, they read rather like an entire film condensed into one shot, or a short story by Raymond Carver, or a painting by Edward Hopper...the influences are numerous and recognisable but the results feel strikingly original.

And so after two immensely enjoyable exhibitions, we climbed the huge staircase up to the second level and the Stanley Kubrick exhibition...and ended up staying another couple of hours! If you're a Kubrick fan and haven't seen this show – book a last minute flight and get over to Rome! It really is a treasure trove of Kubrick memorabilia - unpublished documents, screenplays, director’s notes, on-set photographs, storyboards, models, costumes, even the lenses he used – all plundered from the archives of the Stanley Kubrick Estate, and made available for the first time. Each and every one of his films is covered including the films that never made it past the pre-production stage – Napoleon, Aryan Papers and A.I. (later made by Spielberg). An absolute must-see exhibition!

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