Treading a thin line between the Romantic love of horror and the unsentimental eye of science, with his images of madness and death Géricault played a key role in the constitution and visualization of the modern individual.
GÉRICAULT. IMAGES OF LIFE AND DEATH
In fall 2013 the SCHIRN will hold the very first solo show on Théodore Géricault (1791--1824) in Germany. It will firmly center on two key sets of themes that the major French Romantic painter addressed: the physical suffering of modern man (as is so impressively presented in his still lifes of cut-off heads or limbs as the interweaving of life and death), as well as psychological torment (as in his portraits of the mentally deranged). This completely new way of representing existential situations, of madness and illness, of suffering and death, bear witness to Géricault's especially modern thrust, and it gives subject matter otherwise associated with repugnance and disgust the status of profound images that are troublingly contemporary. Treading a thin line between the Romantic love of horror and the unsentimental eye of science, with his images of madness and death Géricault played a key role in the constitution and visualization of the modern individual. In dialog with the works of his contemporaries, such as Francisco de Goya, Johann Heinrich Füssli or Adolph Menzel, the exhibition expounds how the traditional view of Realism and Romanticism as diametrically opposing epoch-making styles is by no means tenable.
An exhibition organized by Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt and the Museum for Fine Arts, Ghent
The short-lived painter Théodore Géricault (1791--1824)was one of the great masters of nineteenth-century French painting, and is considered a forerunner of French Romanticism.
Géricault's pictures exude an almost ebullient force of life, which always stands with one foot next to the abyss. The catalog focuses on two of the French artist's core thematic complexes: the physical suffering of modern man, most impressively expressed in his pictures of severed heads and limbs linking life and death, and his psychic torments, masterfully illustrated in Géricault's portraits of monomaniacs. In a focused overview these two groups of works are placed in the context of his œuvre as well as in the art of his time, thus shedding new light on Géricault's intellectual assumptions and his connection to the history of medicine and illustrating the reciprocal relationship between art and science.
The works by Géricault are thus juxtaposed with works by Francisco de Goya, Eugène Delacroix, and Adolph Menzel. Situated midway between the unsentimental perspective of science and the Romantic fondness for the unfathomable, Géricault's profoundly human pictures call into question our traditional understanding of realism and Romanticism as mutually exclusive styles of his epoch.
This booklet presents the key works and theses of the exhibition and explains them in context with history, art and society.