Baroque - a collaboration with Kulturhuset Stadsteatern

What is baroque? The absurd, the exaggerated, the unbound? A changing world, fear of and fascination with the unfamiliar, religion, the cycle of life and identity. The exhibition highlights the connections between the baroque era and the present day.

Images: Jan Davidsz de Heem, Still Life with Wine, Fruit and Oysters.  Antonio Novelli, Maria Magdalena. Carlo Dolci, Religion (images are cropped).

Images: Jan Davidsz de Heem, Still Life with Wine, Fruit and Oysters. Antonio Novelli, Maria Magdalena. Carlo Dolci, Religion (images are cropped).

APRIL 5–OCTOBER 19, 2014

The exhibition takes place at Kulturhuset Stadsteatern at Sergel torg in Stockholm. It is a collaboration between Nationalmuseum and Kulturhuset Stadsteatern.

The term “baroque” describes an irregularly shaped pearl and has traditionally been used to designate the dominant movement in art, music, architecture, literature, and theater from the late sixteenth to the early eighteenth century. The art of the time was characterized by such things as strong contrasts between light and shadow, dynamic shapes, and illusory effects.

There are a variety of ways in which the baroque finds its expression today. By highlighting certain currents in contemporary art that coincide with the seventeenth century’s overarching artistic themes we want to show the strong links between artists over time. In some cases the coherence between the artworks is primarily visual, in others there is a thematic connection.

Contemporary themes

Several of the contemporary artists can hardly be labeled “baroque” in the traditional sense. What unites their work is their strong visual expression and interest in questions regarding the human condition. Depicting and raising questions about globalization and the world order, the gaze and the physical body, death and impermanence, the creation of identity and roles, the spiritual, or our relationship with nature are things that have interested both seventeenth-century and contemporary artists. Just like the relationship between reality and fiction.

A changing world

In times of major transitions, art puts reality to the test. Both the seventeenth century and our times have been marked by intensive globalization, increased migration, and mobility among people—and major changes in the world order. When new technologies and scientific advances change our understanding of the world, it is comparable to how astronomical discoveries along with travels in the New World made the people of the Baroque reevaluate their place in the universe.

The transience of life

Thoughts about our fragile existence and our proximity to death marked the Baroque and are strongly felt in contemporary art. In the luxuriant still lifes that spread all over Europe in the seventeenth century, exotic and indigenous objects were combined, testifying to contact with faraway lands. A multitude of symbols were used to remind one of the transience of life, a theme that is just as relevant today.

Roles and identity

Another theme has to do with the creation of identity, representation, and roles, issues that were important to the growing upper class in the seventeenth century, as well as being central to the art of our times. Here even issues of the body and gender are broached. The Baroque is also often associated with richly rendered female figures; but whose gaze is it that is resting on these bodies? The same question could possibly be posed about the images that surround us today.

Lastly, the exhibition touches on the view of spirituality, religion, and the inexplicable that is expressed in the art of both the Baroque and today. How is divinity represented?

The exhibition comprises sculpture, painting, photography, video and applied art. Featured works from Nationalmuseum’s collection include pieces by Rembrandt, El Greco and Judith Leyster. Featured contemporary artists include Andres Serrano, Cindy Sherman and Cecilia Edefalk.

For more information visit the website of Kulturhuset Stadsteatern.

Opening hours for Baroque (on Kulturhuset Stadsteaterns website). Scroll down to "Öppettider Gallerier."

David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl, Pojke med papegojeor och markattor.
David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl,
Boy with Parrots and Monkeys.

Nautilus cup

 jacob Jordaens,  Kung Kandaules av Lydien visar sin ggemål för Gyges
Jacob Jordaens, 
King Candaules of Lydia Showing his Wife to Gyges


Art Library and Museum Archives,
Holmamiralens väg 2,
Skeppsholmen, Stockholm 

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