Presenting 500 exhibits revealing how the legendary Italian film-maker Federico Fellini used drawings to develop the scenes and characters for his films.

Exhibition view, Photo © Franca Candrian

From drawings to charachters in a film


CHF 18.–/14.– (concessions and groups) inclusive the Collection. Free admission for members, children and young people under the age of 17.

Note for groups

We look forward to welcoming you to the Kunsthaus. For organizational reasons, prior registration is required. 44 253 84 84


Federico Fellini (1920–1993) is one of the most important directors in cinema history. Films such as ‘La strada’ (1954), ‘La dolce vita’ (1960), ‘Amarcord’ (1973) and ‘La città delle donne’ (1980) are classics that are discussed by culture practitioners internationally and loved by the public at large. They are incisive commentaries on Italian society but also on Western values in the 20th century. Less known is the fact that Fellini had been a tireless draughtsman since his youth, initially sketching out his dreams and ideas using a felt or ball-point pen or a fineliner on paper before arranging them on the set and letting the cameras roll.

German film poster for ‘Il bidone’, 1955, Collection of the German Poster Museum in the Museum Folkwang, Essen © 2022, ProLitteris, Zurich
Federico Fellini Signora del treno, 1979–1980 (La città delle donne), Jakob and Philipp Keel Collection, © 2022, ProLitteris, Zurich
Federico Fellini Casanova (Donald Sutherland), 1976 (Il casanova), Graziano Mandozzi, © 2022, ProLitteris, Zurich
Pierluigi Praturlon Still taken on the set of ‘Il Casanova’, 1976, Graziano Mandozzi © Estate Pierluigi Praturlon
Federico Fellini Untitled (departure of the market women), 1972–1973 (Amarcord), Jakob and Philipp Keel Collection, © 2022, ProLitteris, Zurich
Federico Fellini Untitled (study of a female boxer), 1979–1980 (La città delle donne), Jakob and Philipp Keel Collection, © 2022, ProLitteris, Zurich
Federico Fellini Anita vestita da prete, 1959–1960 (La dolce vita), Jakob and Philipp Keel Collection, © 2022, ProLitteris, Zurich

Public guided tour

German: Saturdays 23. July, 6. and 20. August at 11 p.m. Costs: Exhibition Ticket + CHF 6.– / CHF 4.– (concessions and members), Registration via Agenda!

Private guided tour

  • Max. 20 people
  • German, English, French, Italian
  • CHF 190.– (German) / CHF 220.– (other languages) + Admission Ticket (group tarif)
  • Duration: 1 hour

In addition to individual scenes and details of sets, he was chiefly interested in the characters that populate his films. Drawing was one way in which he developed his thoughts about them. These rapid sketches helped to guide him, but he also used them to explain his ideas visually to the film crew. As a consequence of his artistic leanings – he first worked as a caricaturist and creator of humorous drawings for newspapers – Fellini’s film drawings show a marked tendency towards caricature, and even the grotesque. It is that specific style that makes the drawings remarkable artistic creations in their own right, independently of the films for which they were made.

Exhibition view, photo © Franca Candrian, Kunsthaus Zürich

Important private collections, film clips and props

The presentation includes some 500 exhibits: drawings, on-set photographs and props actually used in the films. It has been conceived by Cathérine Hug, who is curating the presentation at the Kunsthaus Zürich, in collaboration with Tobias Burg, who was responsible for its earlier showing at the Museum Folkwang in Essen. The last exhibition of this kind at the Kunsthaus was staged in 1984 while the director was still alive, and with his personal involvement. A large proportion of the exhibits consist of drawings from the Zurich collection of Jakob and Philipp Keel. They are complemented by a similar number of mostly black-and-white set photographs, costumes and props as well as expansive film clips and trailers which, through their interplay with the drawings, shed light on Fellini’s working method. These costumes, props, casting letters and personal effects come from the Fondation Fellini pour le cinéma in Sion, the Fellini Museum in Rimini, which opened in 2021, and the private holdings of the conductor Graziano Mandozzi.

The exhibition is supported by the Truus and Gerrit van Riemsdijk Foundation and the Dr. Georg and Josi Guggenheim Foundation.

Ill: Federico Fellini, Maria de Sisti as the inn owner, 1972 (Roma), Fondation Fellini pour le cinéma, Sion © 2022, ProLitteris, Zurich

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