the nouveau musée national de monaco (NMNM) presents ‘variations’ — a journey into pre-cinema, curated by célia bernasconi. in the early 1900s, belgian-born painter-cum-visual artist eugène frey developed light set projection techniques, designed for theatre and opera stages. the unique exhibition explores parallels between the works of frey and those of portuguese contemporary artist joão maria gusmão, whose work is inspired by the old magic lantern genre. while in monaco, designboom visited the show — all images and video by designboom, unless otherwise stated.

variations: eugène frey's light set projections at nouveau musée national de monaco
exhibition poster

 

 

nouveau musée national de monaco’s ‘variations’ is devoted to the lesser-known art of light set projections — a stage design technique entitled ‘décors lumineux à transformations’ established in 1900 in the tradition of shadow theater and magic lantern shows, and developed on the opéra de monte-carlo stage up until the 1930s. in villa paloma’s different spaces, eugene frey’s different animation techniques are presented in the form of a ‘continuous light micro-cinema’. 

variations: eugène frey's light set projections at nouveau musée national de monaco
shadowplay by hans-peter feldmann, 2002, collection of NMNM

 

 

in the turn of the 20th century, frey developed a unique process of ‘transforming light sets’ that used an elaborate system of projection lanterns that simultaneously diffused light onto a series of painted glass paintings. he created the first ‘moving decoration’ — a completely innovative animation at the time.

variations: eugène frey's light set projections at nouveau musée national de monaco

variations: eugène frey's light set projections at nouveau musée national de monaco
‘annabelle serpentine dance’ by william kennedy, laurie dickson and william heise, 1895

variations: eugène frey's light set projections at nouveau musée national de monaco

variations: eugène frey's light set projections at nouveau musée national de monaco
shadow theatre by emmanuel cottier, 1915-20
image © andrea rossetti

 

 

‘a journey into pre-cinema, the exhibition confronts some of eugène frey’s decorative projects with the experimental creations of other inventors from the early 20th century up to the present day: the shadow pieces of caran d’ache; the mechanical theatre of master-watchmaker emmanuel cottier; the artist hans-peter feldmann’s shadow theatre and lourdes castro’s performances; the silhouette films created by lotte reiniger or michel ocelot; the phantasmagorical experiences of georges méliès, alexandre alexeïeff and claire parker as well as those of jean hugo; the light choreographies of loïe fuller and the installations of gusmão + paiva,’ comments nouveau musée national de monaco.

variations: eugène frey's light set projections at nouveau musée national de monaco
detail shadow theatre by emmanuel cottier

variations: eugène frey's light set projections at nouveau musée national de monaco
alphonse visconti and eugène frey, decorative model for ‘la walkyrie’, act III, 3rd and 4th paintings, ca. 1909, study model, graphite pencil and ink

variations: eugène frey's light set projections at nouveau musée national de monaco
‘la walkyrie’ by alphonse visconti and eugène frey

variations: eugène frey's light set projections at nouveau musée national de monaco
various background drawings

variations: eugène frey's light set projections at nouveau musée national de monaco
shadow theatre poster by george redon, 1897

variations: eugène frey's light set projections at nouveau musée national de monaco
drawing for ‘walkyrie’ by eugene frey, 1909

variations: eugène frey's light set projections at nouveau musée national de monaco
‘faust’ and ‘walkyrie’ by eugene frey, 1905-09, collection of NMNM

variations: eugène frey's light set projections at nouveau musée national de monaco
eugene frey | photo by marcel loli

variations: eugène frey's light set projections at nouveau musée national de monaco
j. demontrond, eugène frey and the machinery of the luminous decors, n.d. gelatin silver photography, NMNM collection

variations: eugène frey's light set projections at nouveau musée national de monaco
RGB by joão maria gusmão, 2020

 

 

artist joão maria gusmão reinterprets frey’s light set projection technique in a contemporary manner. for the show, gusmão created several scenographic installations composed of multiple modified slide projectors.

variations: eugène frey's light set projections at nouveau musée national de monaco
RGB by joão maria gusmão, 2020

variations: eugène frey's light set projections at nouveau musée national de monaco
RGB by joão maria gusmão, 2020

 

exhibition info:

 

name: variations – eugène frey’s light set projections – presented by joão maria gusmão
curator: célia bernasconi
location: nouveau musée national de monaco
dates: until may 20, 2020
opening hours: every day from 10am to 6pm