• Egon Schiele Stehende Frau in Rot, 1913 © Privatbesitz
  • Kees van Dongen Mädchenakt, um 1907 Von der Heydt-Museum Wuppertal © VBK, Wien, 2007
  • Egon Schiele Stehende Frau in Rot, 1913 © Privatbesitz
  • Kees van Dongen Mädchenakt, um 1907 Von der Heydt-Museum Wuppertal © VBK, Wien, 2007

Eros in modern Art

01.03.2007 - 22.07.2007

In the spring of 2007, the BA-CA Kunstforum will be holding an extraordinary exhibition on one of the most seminal themes of the modern movement in art: eroticism.

The encounter with all forms and varieties of Eros – love, passion and lust, desire, union and secret longings – always has been, and still is, one of the fundamental impulses for artistic inspiration.

The BA-CA Kunstforum is now addressing this theme with an exciting exhibition. More than 200 works by prominent artists from the late nineteenth century until the present day give striking and immediate expression to the fascination exercised on artists by the theme of eroticism. But the exhibition is not confined solely to the subject of the human body and portrayal of the act of love. The concept far more involves works that address the erotic sphere of temptation and union, desire and fantasy, dream and the subconscious, in a multitude of forms.

The show illustrates the artists' fascination for Eros as the dynamic principle that keeps the world in motion – and therefore art as well; a principle that is just as much responsible for life as it is inevitably associated with death. It is a fitting vehicle for the artists who have constantly faced the challenge of showing something in Eros that in its totality can only be grasped by allusion, that throws up questions for which there are no universal answers – such as the idea deriving from the nineteenth century that the »origin of the world« can be found in the teeming womb of woman. Is this idea born of a typical »male« point of view? Is there a specifically female view of Eros? How does the relationship between art and pornography present itself from the modern perspective? And – perhaps most difficult to answer: Why is art so evidently connected to Eros? Why – to quote Picasso – is art »never chaste«?

The complexity of the theme is reflected in the key works of the exhibition. On the one hand, the leitmotif of Eros enables us to throw a new and unconventional light on modern art. Meanwhile, the show traces a development in depicting eroticism ranging from nude painting that frees itself more and more from conventions to the works that put eroticism on show not so much through the nude body as germinate it in the mind of the beholder.

Exhibits range from French interpretations oriented on Paul Cézanne and Edouard Manet, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Auguste Rodin to the erotic pictures by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele in Austria; from works by Classical Modern artists including Pablo Picasso, Kees van Dongen and Joan Miró to the Surrealist masterpieces by Max Ernst, Man Ray and Salvador Dalí. Rounding off the exhibition are the rich variations of art inspired by eroticism after 1945 – the pop art of a Tom Wesselmann, the objects of a Louise Bourgeois and the monumentalising of flesh in the paintings of Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon.

The project is being produced in cooperation with the Fondation Beyeler in Riehen/Basle.

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