With its appropriately retro feel and eye-catching look, Ferretti’s work as art director on The Aviator earned him an Academy Award for best art direction, which he shared with set decorator Francesca Lo Schiavo.
Dante Ferretti (Italian, b. 1943) The Aviator -- Hangar A Long Beach. 2003. Charcoal on board. Courtesy: Dante Ferretti.
The Aviator, which follows the life of Howard Hughes from the late 1920s to the mid 1940s, garnered attention for its big-name leads (Cate Blanchett won the Academy Award for best performance by an actress in a supporting role and Leonardo DiCaprio was nominated for best performance by an actor in a leading role), but also its retro look.
Dante Ferretti (Italian, b. 1943). The Aviator -- Sala di proezione. 2003. Charcoal on board. Courtesy: Dante Ferretti.
In addition to offering a behind-the-scenes look at sketches, models, props, etc., the MoMA exhibition also contains a film retrospective that will highlight Ferretti's work throughout his film career. The Aviator will be screened.
The Aviator. 2004. USA. Directed by Martin Scorsese.
The clock tower in Hugo was central to the film, visually and thematically. In looking for props to bring in for “Dante Ferretti: Design and Construction for the Cinema” Ron Magliozzi, MoMA's associate curator for the department of film, told THR: “In London, we rescued his massive train station clock for Scorsese's Hugo a week before its scheduled destruction.”
THR's Todd McCarthy said of Hugo: "The film's craft and technical achievements are of the highest order, combining to create an immaculate present to film lovers everywhere."
Hugo. 2011. USA. Directed by Martin Scorsese. Image courtesy Paramount/Photofest.
Behind the Scenes Leading Man
Ferretti has worked as a production designer on more than 50 films. When THR asked what work Ferretti is most proud of, the production designer quipped: “Oh, the movie which I’m most proud? Good question. Next (laughs).”
Dante Ferretti. Credit: Massimo Razzi.
The installation view (above) shows films projected onto a series of screens to showcase the work Ferretti has done in his expansive film career.
The installation contains 3D models Ferretti made in the designing process. "This exhibition examines Ferretti’s design practice for film, focusing on the structural role it plays in the collaborative process of movie making," reads the description.
The exhibition also offers a series of sketches Ferretti made in the planning stages of his designing process. On inspiration, Ferretti remained vague, telling THR, “What inspires me depends on what movie I have to do.”
Ferretti’s sketch for Neil Jordan’s Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994) demonstrates the dark, gritty, eerie aesthetic that prevailed throughout the film.
Dante Ferretti (Italian, b. 1943). Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles -- Le catacombe. 1993. Charcoal on board. Courtesy: Dante Ferretti.
Scorsese and Ferretti teamed up again for Kundun, a story that follows Tibet’s fourteenth Dalai Lama from childhood to adulthood. In the sketch above, Ferretti has drawn out Buddhist sculptures with accompanying red pillars.
Dante Ferretti (Italian, b. 1943). Kundun. 1996. Charcoal on board. Courtesy: Dante Ferretti.
Though MoMA has celebrated production design before, this exhibition marks the first time an individual designer has been celebrated. Ferretti called himself “very lucky” to be so highly honored.
Julie Taymor’s 1999 film Titus stars Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange and is an adaptation of the Shakespeare play Titus Andronicus. Ferretti’s sketch demonstrates his affinity for grandeur and his ability to play with light.
Dante Ferretti (Italian, b. 1943). Titus -- Interno del Senato. 1998. Charcoal on board. Courtesy: Dante Ferretti.
Filming with Fellini
Ferretti has worked with some of entertainment's most notable filmmakers: Martin Scorsese, Pier Paolo Pasolini and, as seen here, Federico Fellini. Fellini's 1980 film City of Women will also be shown during the film retrospective.
City of Women. 1980. Italy. Directed by Federico Fellini. Courtesy Photofest.
Renée Zellweger might have taken home the Oscar for best supporting actress, but Ferretti captured audiences with his enthralling set and overall aesthetic.
Cold Mountain. 2003. USA. Directed by Anthony Minghella. Courtesy Photofest.
In 1986, Ferretti worked on Fellini's Ginger & Fred, one of many films that helped put him on the map.
Ginger and Fred. 1986. Italy. Directed by Federico Fellini.
Dark & Daring
Ferretti's designs for Shutter Island set the tone of the film: dark, eerie, mysterious and grim.
Shutter Island. 2010. USA. Directed by Martin Scorsese. Image courtesy Sikelia Productions.