Showing posts with label exhibition. Show all posts
Showing posts with label exhibition. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Wunderkammer Olbricht, Curated by Kunstkammer Georg Laue, Me Collectors Room, Berlin

One of our New Years Resolutions here at Morbid Anatomy is to sort and process forgotten photographs from trips gone by. To that end, here are some photos from a visit to the Kunstkammer Georg Laue-curated Wunderkammer Olbricht at Berlin's Me Collectors Room taken back in 2010; you can see a full set of image by clicking here. Below is information about the collection from the gallery website; you can find out more by clicking here.
The practice of maintaining ‘cabinets of curiosities’ evolved during the Renaissance and Baroque. Such cabinets were collectors’ rooms in which precious artworks (artificialia), rare phenomena of nature (naturalia), scientific instruments (scientifica), objects from strange worlds (exotica), and inexplicable items (mirabilia) were preserved. They reflected the standard of knowledge and view of the world at that time.
Berlin also had its Kunstkammer. Founded by Elector Joachim II (ruled 1535 – 1571) and almost completely destroyed during the Thirty Years War, it was rebuilt by Elector Friedrich Wilhelm and eventually found its home under Friedrich III in the newly expanded Stadtschloss (City Palace). Today the few remaining objects have been distributed around different museums that have become the successors to the cabinet of curiosities, albeit in a thematically differentiated way.

Our Wunderkammer reanimates this tradition in Berlin once more. It provides an insight into the past and manages to fulfil its original intention of some two to five centuries ago: to transport the visitor into a realm of sheer astonishment—whether by means of the legendary unicorn, ultimately exposed as the tusk of a narwhal, an amber mirror flooded with light fashioned from the “Gold of the North”, the coconut chalice that came into the possession of Alexander von Humboldt and which is adorned with images of Brazilian cannibals, preserved specimens of a Nile crocodile and a great blue turaco, or wooden cabinets that only reveal their mysteries to the curious eye.

The quality of the objects, numbering in excess of 200 from the Renaissance and Baroque periods, is unique and makes the Wunderkammer Olbricht one of the most important private collections of its kind.

The Kunstkammer Georg Laue, Munich, is responsible for the conception, the installation, and supervision of the Wunderkammer Olbricht.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas with Jean Paul Gaultier Virgins (Madonna) Series, The Brooklyn Museum

I am not usually a big fan of haute couture, but Jean Paul Gaultier's Virgins (or Madonnas) collection, now on view at The Brooklyn Museum, is one of the best things I have ever seen. These lavishly elegant and painstakingly crafted gowns are embellished with sacred and bleeding hearts, or open in the suggestion of portable altars, or are encrusted with anatomical silver ex voto. Each is topped by a halo-inspired tiara/headdresses made from such materials as feathers, shells, and/or jewels; many of the models sport stylized Madonna Dolorosa-inspried tears. The installation is also a delightful spectacle in and of itself, with the blank white heads of the mannequins uncannily brought to life by video projections of the faces of the models, who blink and shift their aloof gazes towards and away from you, fantasies of the Virgin Mary brought to life.

If you are based in the New York area, I cannot more highly recommend making a pilgrimage to see these incredibly artful pieces, on view at The Brooklyn Museum in the exhibition "The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk" through February 23, 2014. You can find out more by clicking here.

Thanks so much to my friend Shannon Taggart for making sure I saw this incredible exhibition. 

Images sourced from Art at Heart, Visual Therapy, Relics on Adams Street, and Pretty Cripple.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

LECTURE: "The History of Hair Work Jewelry" with Karen Bachmann, opening of "The Art of Hair Work: Love and Memory in the 19th Century," The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum, NYC

This Friday, September 20th, hope to see you at the opening of The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum's new exhibition "The Art of Hair Work: Love and Memory in the 19th Century." The occasion will be marked with a special illustrated lecture on the history of hair work jewelry by many time Morbid Anatomy instructor and lecturer Karen Bachmann, an art historian and master jeweler whose area of expertise is Victorian hair work jewelry.

The lecture will begin at 6 and will take place at The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum, which is located at 421 East 61st Street between First and York Avenue in New York City. Full details on both the lecture and exhibition follow; hope to see you there! Also, stay tuned for news of a special Morbid Anatomy tour of the exhibition to take place very soon--probably on October 14th!
"The History of Hair Work Jewelry"
Illustrated lecture with Karen Bachmann, Art Historian and Master Jeweler
September 20, 6pm
$18 Adults; $15 Museum Members and Students

Art Historian and Master Jeweler Karen Bachmann will present 19th-century mourning rituals, focusing on hair work jewelry, a popular form of commemorative art that reached its zenith during the Victorian Era. Afterward, join Ms. Bachmann for a reception and discussion of the Museum's exhibit.

The Art of Hair Work: Love and Memory in the 19th Century
August 28, 2013 – November 17, 2013
The Art of Hair Work:  Love and Memory in the 19th Century, Part II, opens August 28, 2013, at The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden and will remain on view until November 17, 2013. Used as tokens of love, friendship, and remembrance, the objects in this exhibition show changing social customs and popular fashions in the 19th century. Hair work set into jewelry had been produced in Europe for several centuries, but it was not until the second half of the eighteenth century that hair jewelry began to be produced in significant quantities in America. Hair was a natural material for mourning ornaments; however, hair jewelry was also often used for commemorative or celebratory purposes.  Part II of the exhibition focuses on the mid-to-late 19th century and the development of hair jewelry in both size and the elaborate nature and variety of designs.  Professional hair jewelry manufacturers could now be found along Broadway, and directions for making hair work at home were printed in popular ladies’ magazines and instructional manuals. Objects on display include rings, charms, pendants, bracelets and two hair wreaths, one of the more elaborate forms of this art.  
An opening reception with a lecture by Art Historian and Master Jeweler Karen Bachmann will be held on September 20th at 6pm at The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden. Ms. Bachmann will present 19th-century mourning rituals, focusing on hair work jewelry which reached its zenith during the Victorian Era.
The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum building was constructed in 1799 as a carriage house and converted into a “day hotel” in 1826. Today the museum transports visitors back to that Mount Vernon Hotel, a 19th-century country resort for New Yorkers escaping the crowded city below 14th Street. The Museum’s mission is to preserve and interpret travel, leisure, work and play in diverse antebellum New York. 
Visitor Information: The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum and Garden is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11am to 4pm. The exhibit is open concurrent with Museum hours and is included with admission. The Museum is located at 421 East 61st Street between First and York Avenues. It is easily accessible from 59th Street/Lexington Avenue on the 4, 5, 6 or N, R, Q. For further information call the Museum at 212-838-6878 or visit
More here. Hope very much to see you there! Image supplied by the museum.

Friday, April 12, 2013

"The Angel of the Odd: Dark Romanticism from Goya to Max Ernst," Musée D'Orsay, Paris; Through June 9, 2013

Whilst in Paris last week for the Anatomical Model conference at the Academy of Medicine (which was wonderful, by the way) I made time to visit the Musée D'Orsay's spellbinding exhibition "The Angel of the Odd: Dark Romanticism from Goya to Max Ernst." I and my companion spend a good three and a half hours marveling at the works--which ranged from romantic painting to Hitchcock film clips to spirit photography to decorative arts--and absorbing the text, which sought to trace a through-line from the Dante-inspired 18th century romantic paintings of Johann Henry Fuseli to today's horror films. Above are just a very few of my favorite works seen in this wonderful, sprawling exhibition.

The exhibition terms this trope "dark romanticism"--drawn from art historian Mario Praz's 1903 publication Flesh, Death and the Devil in Romantic Literature--and traces its development in three major sections. The first examines its genesis in the years from 1750-1850 in, paradoxically, "the age of reason," a response to the post-French revolution "Terror" and Napoleon's wars which, the text explains, "mark[ed] the end of the belief that reason alone could lead to enlightened humanity." Text and images demonstrate how the romantics used literary works--Gothic novels, of course, but also Goethe's and Milton's visions of hell and the darker interludes of Shakespeare--as the launching off point for artworks exploring the darkest and most taboo aspects of humanity: "cannibalism, Satanism, torture, incest, infantacide, and nightmares." The real standouts in this section were the works of Goya (4th down), Fuseli (2nd and 3rd down), some wonderful illustrations by Delecroix for Goethe's Faust (8th down), and the shockingly perverse and powerfully large-scale "Dante And Virgil In Hell" depicting an act of cannibalism described in Dante's Inferno (top image) and painted by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, whom I had previously known as the artist behind exceedingly competent and somewhat sentimental academic paintings such as this one. Another surprise in this section was a Goya print from his "Les Caprices" series which, the text convincingly asserted, served as the inspiration for Karloff's iconic Frankenstein.

The second part of the exhibition which examined the "dark romantic" revival of the 19th century was the real strength of the show for me, showcasing dozens of unforgettable works by the French Symbolists drawn from the Musée D'Orsay's magnificent permanent collection. We learn that the work was a response to a time of upheaval, when faith in scientific positivism and democracy were weakening, and artists and intellectuals were growing increasingly frustrated with the hypocrisy of bourgeois propriety. It was also a time of "obsessive fears" about prostitution, venereal disease, and evolutionary degeneration, where a post-Darwinian nature was viewed not as gentle mother but, instead, "a devouring force relentlessly destroying personal happiness to ensure the survival of the species." No wonder, then, that this section is rife with images of Medusa, Salome, The Sphinx, "The Idol of Perversity" and other erotic and terrifying femme fatales. This section also boasted some surprising images by Gauguin (12 down), a number of oddly contemporary and revelatory fetishy cyanotypes by Charles-François Jeandel (13 down), and a the fantastic sculpture "Eternelle douleur (Eternal Pain)" by Paul Dardé, a wonderful, dynamic depiction of the lifeless head of Medusa aloft on a nest of writhing snakes (bottom image, but does not capture the power of the original).

The third part of the exhibition focused on "Surrrealism's Redescovery," and traced this early 20th century movement's ebrace of the dark non-rational after the absurd horrors of WWI. Although thematically fitting, aesthetically there were few things of great interest to me, personally, in this section. The only things of note here were some works by Dali and a series of photographs of Hans Bellmer's wonderfully perverse dolls (16 down).

Throughout the exhibition, there were also a good many film clips meant to be playing in small theatres; sadly, many were out of order on the day we were there, but on a good day, one would find clips from Dracula, Frankenstein, Nosferatu (17 down), Hitchcock's Rebecca, Un Chien Andalou, Häxan, and much more.

The official introductory text for the exhibition--which is on view through June 9, 2013--follows; you can read the complete wall text by clicking here; you can learn more about the exhibition by clicking here. Full captions for all images follow as well.

You can order a copy of the exhibition catalog (in French but so, so worth it!) by clicking here. A copy will also soon be in The Morbid Anatomy Library. Special thanks to Pam Grossman for letting me know about this wonderful exhibition, and to "professor of art" Michael Daks for lingering with me there for 3+ hours.
The Angel of the Odd: Dark Romanticism from Goya to Max Ernst
It was in the 1930s that the Italian writer and art historian Mario Praz (1896-1982) first highlighted the dark side of Romanticism, thus naming a vast swathe of artistic creation, which from the 1760s onwards exploited the shadows, excesses and irrational elements that lurked behind the apparent triumph of enlightened Reason.

This world was created in the English Gothic novels of the late 18th century, a genre of literature that fascinated the public with its penchant for the mysterious and the macabre. The visual arts quickly followed suit: many painters, engravers and sculptors throughout Europe vied with the writers to create horrifying and grotesque worlds: Goya and Géricault presented us with the senseless atrocities of war and the horrifying shipwrecks of their time, Füssli and Delacroix gave substance to the ghosts, witches and devils of Milton, Shakespeare and Goethe, whereas C.D. Friedrich and Carl Blechen cast the viewer into enigmatic, gloomy landscapes, reflecting his fate.

From the 1880s, seeing the vanity and ambiguity behind the belief in progress, many artists picked up this legacy of Dark Romanticism, turning towards the occult, reviving myths and exploiting the new ideas about dreams, in order to bring Man face to face with his fears and contradictions: the savagery and depravity hidden in every human being, the risk of mass degeneration, the harrowing strangeness of daily life revealed in the horror stories of Poe and Barbey d’Aurévilly. And so, right in the middle of the second industrial revolution, hordes of witches, sniggering skeletons, shapeless devils, lecherous Satans and deadly enchantresses suddenly appeared, expressing a defiant, carnivalesque disillusionment with the present.

After the First World War, when the Surrealists took the unconsciousness, dreams and intoxication as the basis for artistic creation, they completed the triumph of the imagination over the principle of reality, and thus, put the finishing touches to the spirit itself of Dark Romanticism. At the same time, the cinema seized on Frankenstein, Faust and other masterpieces of this genre that are now firmly established in the collective imagination.

Following the first stage of the exhibition at the Städel Museum in Frankfurt, the Musée d’Orsay plans to present the many different expressions of Dark Romanticism, from Goya and Füssli to Max Ernst and the Expressionist films of the 1920s, through a selection of 200 works that includes paintings, graphic works and films.
  1. William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Dante And Virgil In Hell, 1850
  2. Johann Henry Fuseli, Sin Pursued by Death, 1794-1796
  3. Johann Henry Fuseli, The Nightmare, circa 1782
  4. Francisco de Goya, Witches in the Air, 1797-1798
  5. Louis Boulanger, Les Fantômes, 1829
  6. Gustave Moreau, Galatea, Circa 1880
  7. Eugène Grasset, Trois Femmes et Trois Loups, 1892
  8. Eugene Delecroix, Illustration from Goethe's Faust, 1828
  9. Odilon Redon, La Mort: C'est moi qui te rends serieuse; enlaçons-nous (Death: It Is I Who Makes You Serious; Let Us Embrace) from La Tentation de Sainte-Antoine (The Temptation of Saint Anthony) (plate XX), 1896
  10. Jean Delville, Idol of Perversity, 1891
  11. Franz von Stuck, The Kiss of the Sphinx (Der Kuss der Sphinx), 1895
  12. Paul Gauguin, Madame le Mort, 1891
  13. Julien Adolphe Duvovelle, Crâne aux yeux exorbités et mains agrippées à un mur, 1904
  14. Cyanotype by Charles-François Jeandel
  15. Anonymous spirit photograph, 1910
  16. Hans Bellmer, The Doll (face and knife), 1935  
  17. Still from F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu, 1922
  18. Arnold Böcklin, Shield with Medusa's Head, 1897
  19. Paul Dardé, Eternelle douleur (Eternal Pain), 1913

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Must-See Exhibition of Astounding Anatomical Artworks: "Doctors, Dissection and Resurrection Men," Exhibition, Museum of London, Through April 2013

Whilst over in London recently, I spent a fascinating afternoon with curator Jelena Bekvalac as she guided me through her exhibition "Doctors, Dissection and Resurrection Men" now on view at the Museum of London. The exhibition is not, I am delighted to report, your average history of medicine fare; it functions more as a must-see exhibition of astounding, idiosyncratic, and beautifully macabre anatomical artworks languishing backstage at London Museums than a straightforward history of human dissection in London. And this is, of course, in my opinion, a good thing!

One of Bekvalac's characteristically brilliant curatorial choices was the inclusion of one of my all-time favorite anatomical artworks, a piece which perfectly illuminates the confounding interweaving of the spectacular, the educational, and the macabre which draws me to many early medical artifacts: the Royal Academy's "Anatomical Crucifixion of James Legg" (top three images). This piece is a plaster life-size écorché--or skinless muscle man figure, a common art trope stretching back to The Renaissance. But this écorché is no mere artistic depiction; instead, it is an actual plaster cast taken directly from the the body of executed murderer James Legg after it was flayed and crucified (!!!) by three members of the Royal Academy around 1801 "... in order to settle an artistic debate...  to prove their belief that most depictions of the Crucifixion were anatomically incorrect." You can find out more about this astounding artifact at this recent blog post.

Other highlights of the exhibition include a fabulous early 19th century Florentine wax anatomical woman on loan from The Science Museum/Wellcome Collection (4th down; more on that piece here); some wonderful Joseph Towne waxes and moulages from The Gordon Museum (8th and 9th down); some of my all-time favorite memento mori figurines, also from The Science Museum/Wellcome Collection (5th down); a handbill advertising the display of an Anatomical Venus on Regent Street in the early 19th century (9th down); an artful preparation of part of a human stomach injected to demonstrate the blood vessels by Edward Jenner (6th down); a salacious late 18th century watercolor entitled 'The Persevering Surgeon' by Thomas Rowlandson (10th down); an original anatomical drawing of a human skeleton for a anatomy student's ticket from 1840 (11th down); a mid-19th century skeletal preparation of a boy, dissected in a somewhat anguished pose (on loan from the St. Bart's Pathology Museum); and a number of anatomical artworks by Jacques Fabien Gautier D'Agoty and other artists of the time.

For any Morbid Anatomy readers in the London area, I highly recommend a visit to this exhibition; thanks to Bekvalac's eye and excellent knowledge of rarely seen and idiosyncratically spectacular pieces backstage in local collections, it is much more interesting than you might expect by the title!

More about the exhibition, from the press release:
Doctors, Dissection and Resurrection Men
Until 14 April 2013

In 2006, Museum of London archaeologists excavated a burial ground at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel. What they found was both extraordinary and unexpected.

The excavation revealed some 262 burials. In the confusing mix of bones was extensive evidence of dissection, autopsy and amputation, bones wired for teaching, and animals dissected for comparative anatomy.

Dating from a key period – that of the Anatomy Act of 1832 – the discovery is one of the most significant in the UK, offering fresh insight into early 19th century dissection and the trade in dead bodies.

Now, 180 years later, you can uncover this intriguing story in Doctors, Dissection and Resurrection Men, a major new exhibition at the Museum of London. Bringing together human and animal remains, exquisite anatomical models and drawings, documents and original artefacts, the exhibition reveals the intimate relationship between surgeons pushing forward anatomical study and the ‘Resurrection men’ who supplied them; and the shadowy practices prompted by a growing demand for corpses.

You’ll discover the story of Bishop, Williams and May – London’s Burke and Hare – and find out how the excavation findings shed new light on the case of an alleged resurrectionist. You’ll also pore over unrivalled evidence of surgery and amputation – before anaesthetic – and of dissection, anatomical teaching and students practising their craft.  

As the exhibition draws to a close, you’ll be encouraged to debate the Anatomy Act, reflect on medical ethics and cultural attitudes today, and ask what questions still remain.

It may leave you asking: who really owns your body?
This exhibit will be on view through April 14th, 2013; You can find out more here. Please click on images to see larger versions; most are my own; 6th and 11th down are both © Science Museum / Science and Society Picture Library; the 10th down is from the collection of the Hunterian Museum, London.

Images top to bottom:
  1. "Anatomical Crucifixion of James Legg," 1801, Royal Academy
  2. "Anatomical Crucifixion of James Legg," 1801, Royal Academy, detail
  3. "Anatomical Crucifixion of James Legg," 1801, Royal Academy, detail
  4.  Female wax anatomical model showing internal organs 1818, The Science Museum
  5. Memento Mori Figures, The Science Museum
  6. Part of human stomach dissected by Edward Jenner 1790-1823 C Science Museum, Science Museum, Science and Society Picture Library.jpg
  7. Wax moulage by Joseph Towne showing hand with smallpox, 19th century, The Gordon Museum
  8. Wax model of human torso by Joseph Towne, 19th century, The Gordon Museum
  9. Handbill advertising display of anatomical Venus, 1810-1840 
  10. Thomas Rowlandson, 'The Persevering Surgeon', late 18th century, from the collection of the Hunterian Museum, London
  11. Anatomical drawing of a skeleton 1840 C Science Museum, Science and Society Picture Library

Friday, October 5, 2012

Ectoplasm, "Spirit Art," and Mars in the Edwardian Imagination: A Series of Events at Observatory Curated by Photographer Shannon Taggart

I am very excited to announce a series of spiritualist themed events produced by my good friend, newest Observatory member, and extremely talented photographer Shannon Taggart. All the events are based around her current Observatory exhibition, The Spirit Art of Stanley Matrunick.

Full details follow; hope to see there!
The Spirit Art of Stanley Matrunick Viewing Event 
Sunday, October 14 - 2pm - 5pm 
Join us for a viewing event during Gowanus Open Studios Weekend. Music and Drinks! The Morbid Anatomy Library will be open also!
About the Exhibit: Stanley Matrunick (1906 – 1995) was a medium and Spiritualist minister who channeled portraits of Ascended Masters, guardians and loved ones from the other side. With the help of spirit guides, Rev. Stanley began creating spirit art in 1954 at the White Lily Chapel in Ashley, Ohio. He was then led to travel across the United States for 40 years doing portraits and readings. His work was often featured on television, radio and in print.  The art presented here is from the private collection of Ron Nagy, historian of Lily Dale, NY, the world’s largest Spiritualist community. Also included are materials about Stanley Matrunick provided by his former student, Sakina Blue –Star of Sedona, Arizona.  
About the Curator: Shannon Taggart is a photographer based in Brooklyn and a member of Observatory. Since 2001, she has been working on a project about Modern Spiritualism. Her images have appeared in publications including Blind Spot, Tokion, TIME and The New York Times Magazine. Her photographs have been shown at Photoworks in Brighton, England, The Photographic Resource Center in Boston, Redux Pictures in New York, the Stephen Cohen Gallery in Los Angeles and the New Gallery in Houston.
A History of Ectoplasm: An Illustrated Presentation by Shannon Taggart
Date: Thursday, October 25th
Time: 8pm
Admission: $10
Presented by: Shannon Taggart 
Why Ectoplasm? - Harry Houdini famously wondered this in his scathing critique of Spiritualism. Since it’s first appearances in Victorian era séance rooms, this mysterious substance has continued to seduce, disgust and intrigue believers and skeptics alike. This presentation will consider some of the complicated situations in which ectoplasm played a provocative role including the work of Baron von Schrenck-Notzing, the documentation of the Goligher Circle and the infamous case of Margery the Medium. Shannon Taggart’s images that address the current pursuit of ectoplasm within Modern Spiritualism will also be discussed. This lecture is part of a series that seeks to explore the intrinsic connection between Spiritualism and Photography. 
Shannon Taggart is a photographer based in Brooklyn and a member of Observatory. Her images have appeared in various publications including Blind Spot, Tokion, TIME and The New York Times Magazine. Her work has been recognized by the Inge Morath Foundation, American Photography, the International Photography Awards, the Society for News and Design, Photo District News and the Alexia Foundation for World Peace. Her photographs have been shown at Photoworks in Brighton, England, The Photographic Resource Center in Boston, Redux Pictures in New York, the Stephen Cohen Gallery in Los Angeles and the New Gallery in Houston.   

Are We Alone? Planet Mars in the Edwardian Visual and Scientific Imagination, An illustrated lecture with author Jennifer Tucker
Date: Saturday, October 27 
Time: 8pm 
Admission: $10 
Presented by: Shannon Taggart  
Astronomers, religious leaders, and members of the lay public had speculated about the possibility of life on other planets for hundreds of years before the first “proof” appeared, in May 1905, in the first successful photographs of Mars. Newspapers and magazines swiftly published reproductions of the photographs, made by the amateur planetary astronomer and wealthy businessman Percival Lowell, with accompanying descriptions of the “canals” of Mars and its imagined inhabitants. This illustrated talk shows how the intersection of science with new forms of observation and journalistic image display in the late 19th and early 20th century galvanized public interest in Mars, and how “Mars Mania” intersected and interacted with key trends and figures in art, journalism, spiritualism, astronomy, evolutionary science, and politics during a period that, noted the British writer H.G. Wells, was fascinated by the idea that “There are certain features in which [Martians] are likely to resemble us.” 
Jennifer Tucker is a historian of science and technology specializing in the study of visual representation, gender, science, and popular knowledge in Victorian England. She is the author of Nature Exposed:  Photography as Eyewitness in Victorian Science (2006) and editor of a special issue of History and Theory on “Photography and Historical Interpretation, “ as well as articles about the visual representation of science and technology in Victorian England. She is finishing a book about the photos and other visual representations that circulated across the wide social spectrum of Victorian society during the most famous legal case of imposture in modern Britain.
You can find out more by clicking here.