The one proposed by the Palazzo Magnani Foundation in Reggio Emilia, from 17 November 2023 to 17 March 2024, is an absolutely original exhibition-show, in the sense that an exhibition like this has never been seen in Italy. And not even abroad. To be staged will be “Marionette and Avant-garde. Picasso · Depero · Klee · Sarzi”, coordinated by James Bradburne, member of the Scientific Committee of the Palazzo Magnani Foundation.
The exhibition develops around the concept of the "fourth wall", that is, the capacity for emotional involvement that makes a successful show a reality capable of immersing the spectator in the story being staged. When a marionette or puppet breaks the fourth wall, it wins the audience's trust, giving the show the power to blur the division between stage and world, between art and life.
Those who understood this well were those artists - protagonists of the world of art and puppetry - who, rather than dismissing marionettes and marionettes (in English the term puppets is used for both) as simple games for children, took seriously their enthusiasm and indeed, they looked at "creative play" as a source of aesthetic inspiration to seek new ways of visual expression. The very notion of "child" as distinct from adult manifested itself in various ways throughout the twentieth century and stimulated some artists to exploit the educational potential of "puppetry", often apparently linked to children, to create a better world and improve citizens at a crucial moment in their development.
While some artists saw the potential of marionettes and puppets to imagine a better world, satirists used transgressive and biting performances to attack the political establishment. Addressing an adult audience and drawing on a strong tradition of political satire of “puppetry,” puppets, in particular, have also been used to criticize political and social conditions. The miniature of a puppet, in fact, makes it a safe spokesperson for a loud protest, because its bite is tempered by cuteness. Who could be bothered by a puppet? Puppets speak truth to power in a way that traditional theater actors never can.
At Palazzo Magnani, visitors will be welcomed by the life-size costumes designed by Pablo Picasso for Parade, a choreographic ballet that Sergej Djaghilev's Ballets Russes staged in Paris in 1917.