Organized in collaboration with the Städel Museum of Frankfurt, the exhibition, "The Angel of the Odd", which borrows its title from one of Poe's Tales, opens at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.
Influenced by the spooky, macabre gothic novels of 18th century England, artists of the time were quick to use these creepy tales as inspiration for art that was both frightening and fascinating. 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.
"Dark romanticism" was fashionable in Europe for over a hundred years. It studied myths, explored the realm of dreams and wasn’t afraid to shock with frankly gory images. Artists exploited the shadows, excesses and irrational elements that lurked behind the apparent triumph of enlightened Reason.
Dark Romanticism is not a style, but an aesthetic trend in Western art, inspired by fears and anxieties of turbulent times, and embodying an imaginative response to them. Ostensibly promising escape to a dark and irrational world, this "evil" art consistently rejected ideology, defied conventional morality and challenged the oppressive power of two religions – Church and Progress.
The exhibition expresses the irrational current of Dark Romantism in Western art through three eras: under the apparent triumph of reason, its birth at the time of revolutionary turmoil (1770-1850), its reactivation in Symbolist art (1860-1900), and its rediscovery in Surrealist art (1920-1940). It provides a first overview of the various ways in which Dark Romanticism found expression in European visual art from the 18th to the 20th century.
“The Angel of the Odd” exhibition is intriguing, with 200 paintings, sculptures and drawings on show, together with a dozen films from the period between the Wars.
There are a series of conferences based around the exhibition, a cycle of films (including some silent movies accompanied by a spooky organ!), workshops for kids and teenagers, and family visits some Saturdays.
Do you believe in ghosts? Are you fascinated by vampires and sorcerers? If it is so, don’t miss a chance to visit the exhibition “The Angel of the Odd”. It is opened from the 5th of March to the 9th of June 2013 at the Musée d’Orsay, 5 Quai Anatole France, 75007 Paris.