The Musée d'Orsay is currently displaying Dolce vita ? Du Liberty au design italien (1900-1940) in its 6th floor galleries. The exhibition covers Italian design from the early 20th century, when Italy was still newly united, up until the rise of Mussolini’s regime. The diverse styles found in Italian decorative arts are displayed chronologically, showing a progression of intense creativity against an increasingly dark historical backdrop.
The objects are truly exceptional, displaying craftsmanship, imagination, and wit. In the forty year window of the exhibition, it is incredible to see the range of styles and conventions in such a short period of time. Each new section displays an exciting burst of innovation, with exciting movements along the lines of Art Nouveau, Futurism, modern classicism, magical realism ("an atmosphere of lucid astonishment", Massimo Bontempelli), abstraction...
Yet, were I to classify the exhibition in terms of its level of intellectual accessibility, I would call it 'Advanced'. As a visitor, you really have to pay attention to the details in the labels to understand the how the chronological progression of the objects is actually translated into what you see in the objects in front of you. And, even so, a somewhat hefty amount of background knowledge of the subject matter is necessary to really get the most out of the exhibition.
But, should you find yourself in the Musée d'Orsay, I would recommend taking a stroll through this little treasure of an exhibition, which is included in the general entrance ticket.
Dolce vita ? Du Liberty au design italien (1900-1940) at the Musée d'Orsay (until September 13, 2015)
Address: 1, rue de la Légion d'Honneur, 75007 Paris ∣ Métro: Solférino (line 12) ∣ Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30am to 6pm, open until 9:45pm on Thursday