The exhibition The human image. Art, identities and symbolism, presented by the ‘La Caixa’ foundation in collaboration with the British Museum at Caixa Forum Madrid. As the title says, the exhibition is focused on exploring how, over the years, different civilizations have represented the human being. The sample has up to 155 diverse works, from all areas of representation such as painting, drawing, sculpture, objects, photographs, filming, video installations and numistics; and will be open to the public from April 28, 2021 to January 16, 2022.
Specifically, the public will appreciate 145 works of art and objects from the British Museum, which is joined by a selection of 7 contemporary works belonging to the collection of the ”la Caixa” Foundation, as well as a Large-format oil painting from the Prado Museum, a installation of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (MACBA) and one interactive installation by digital artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, which makes it possible to strengthen the links between the public and the contents of the exhibition, provided by the artist and the Max Estrella Gallery.
The discourse of the exhibition addresses the current and juxtaposes Ancient Art jewelry with spectacular more recent works from diverse cultures. The oldest work in the exhibition is a modeled human skull from ancient Jericho (present-day the West Bank), dating from around 8,000 BC, and is considered one of the most remarkable artifacts in the British Museum’s collections. And in the case of the most contemporary work, it is the silkscreen of the famous Iranian artist Parviz Tanavoli, from 2016.
Although the works have been made in different cultures and times, they are not organized chronologically, but the criteria followed to do so respond to ideas and concepts common to all societies and peoples. Therefore, five key themes that make up the exhibition are: Ideal beauty, Portraits, The divine body, The political body and The corporal transformation.
In the first section of the tour, it is shown how artists throughout history have strived to represent the human image in the most beautiful and perfect way, represent what was the ideal of beauty. These are cultural archetypes that reflect norms and beliefs of the communities in which they have arisen.
Although a series of shared patterns between cultures could be established, each community represents the ideal of beauty in a different way. Thus, in this area they dialogue from a classical Roman sculpture corresponding to a male nude of the god Pan associated with Dionysus, from 45 to 25 BC, to a sepulchral statue of an Egyptian official who responds to the canons of beauty from the end of the 19th century. Old Kingdom of Egypt, between 2.345 and 2.181 aC
In the section Pictures all the works carried out are brought together in order to represent the image of a certain person. The portraits offer a subjective and partial view of the model, not an unanswerable image. His styles range from mimetic realism to idealized naturalism, from distortion to abstraction.
A portrait can reveal what is unique and singular about an individual, or it can emphasize their generic qualities and present them as a particular “type” or class of person. Some of the works included are the portrait what did david hockney do Comisario Henry Geldzahler, the self-portrait of Michelangelo Pistoletto, a lithograph of Edouard Manet, a portrait of Utagawa Kunimasa about the famous actors of the Edo period, as well as various sculptures from different eras and some medals.
In the field The divine body, the show explores the use of images in religious and sacred practices with representations associated with Gods and Goddesses, santos, sacred ancestors and other supernatural beings. The iconographic characteristics of these figures, which recreate idealized human forms, tend to respond to strict theological conceptions and precepts: face, body, posture, gesture, clothing and symbolic attributes. transmit the character and virtues of the divinity represented.
Along these lines, the exhibition can be seen from a Roman head of the god Apollo in marble, a figure of the Hindu god Vishnu, a Sitting buddha, going through a figure of Amun-Ra, considered a supreme Egyptian divinity, to a Virgin mary enthroned with the infant Jesus, from the 15th century, next to the contemporary Black Madonna with twins, from Vanessa Beercroft.
On The body politic delves into the human representation of rulers, monarchs and political leaders. All of them have always spread images of themselves as a visible expression of their authority and power. The aim of these iconic representations, which show a wide variety of styles and formats – from colossal statues to mass-produced coins – is to glorify the ruler and leave a witness of his achievements for posterity.
They share a leading role in this area faces of pharaohs and pharaohs of Egypt, portraits of kings of Ethiopia and of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a representation of the Queen Mother of Ghana or the collection of Roman gold and silver coins that show numerous leaders, including Julius Caesar, Mark Antony or Cleopatra.
All of them are linked to representations such as engraving Napoleon the Great (Napoleon the Great), by Auguste Boucher-Desnoyer, one of the leaders who put the most work on his image; a large format canvas of Isabel the Catholic, in charge of Luis de Madrazo, from Prado National Museum, a full-body sculpture of the emperor Marcus Aurelius or a statue of Mao Tse Tung.
Body transformationThe last section focuses, as its name suggests, on bodily change. This is because visual presentation of the human figure in a fantastic, camouflaged or drastically altered form is a practically universal phenomenon that encompasses transcendental ideas and meanings. Often these works reflect the dual nature of existence: material body and immaterial spirit, conscious and unconscious mind, life and death …
Several of the works included in this selection allude to demonic possessions or magical metamorphoses. A carving of a kwakiutl village, on the Pacific coast of North America, shows one of these changes in shape: a shaman transforms into a bear, one of the ancestral animals from which the Kwakiutl believe they come. Another more contemporary sample is an etching dedicated to David Bowie characterized as Ziggy Stardust, the androgynous character and quirky rock star. The piece signed by the British painter and printmaker David Oxtoby alludes to Bowie’s fascination with the mutable nature of individual identity.
This exhibition is the sixth collaboration of the “la Caixa” Foundation with the British Museum, and thanks to this strategic alliance between these two institutions, it has been possible to present to the public of our country exhibitions dedicated, among other topics, to medieval art and culture, to the idea of competition in ancient Greece, to the figure of the pharaoh , to luxury in antiquity or the emergence of engraving from the 60s to the present. The sample will be available until January 16, 2022.
More information of interest
Where: CaixaForum Madrid, Paseo del Prado, 36, 28014, Madrid.
Contact: 91 330 73 00, firstname.lastname@example.org
Schedule: From Monday to Sunday and holidays, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
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The human image. Art, Identities and Symbolism – Moove Magazine