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Kunsthaus Zurich opens Riotous Baroque. From Cattelan to Zurbaran

Kunsthaus Zurich presents Riotous Baroque. From Cattelan to Zurbaran. Manifestations of Precarious Vitality, an exhibition on view 1 June to 2 September 2012, bringing together some 100 works of art from the 17th century and the present day.

Kunsthaus Zurich

Even before her appointment as Director of the 2011 Venice Biennale, Bice Curiger was working on a concept for an exhibition that would place contemporary paintings, sculptures, films and installations opposite art from the 17th century. The presentation at the Kunsthaus Zürich focuses on the ‘riotous’ aspect, as Curiger investigates the vitality, existentiality and proximity to life that is a recurring theme of literature on the Baroque. The exhibition therefore sets out to extricate the concept of the Baroque from the history of style. In so doing, it breaks with myriad clichés: here, the Baroque is not about pomp, ornament and gold, but rather ‘manifestations of precarious vitality’ – vitality lost, projected, lived, rediscovered and ‘threatened’; a vitality in which death is omnipresent.

The juxtaposition of Old Masters and contemporary art harbours temptations that the curator studiously avoids. Curiger eschews trite analogies, formal comparisons, contrasts of motifs or the invocation of purportedly ‘eternal values.’ Her selection does not set out to proclaim a ‘neo-Baroque style.’ These are artists to whom the customary ‘Baroque’ label cannot be attached: Maurizio Cattelan, Robert Crumb, Nathalie Djurberg, Urs Fischer, Tobias Madison, Paul McCarthy, Boris Mikhailov, Marilyn Minter, Albert Oehlen, Cindy Sherman, Juergen Teller, Diana Thater, Ryan Trecartin, Oscar Tuazon, all of whom are showing new or recent works in the exhibition.

The 17th-century works selected are ones that, to this day, speak to the viewer with a conspicuous directness. They have been loaned by prestigious museums such as the Prado in Madrid, the National Gallery in London, and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna; there are also some surprising items from private collections. The emphasis is on the Dutch, Italian and Spanish masters: Pieter Aertsen and Monsù Desiderio, Dirck van Baburen, Adriaen Brouwer, Gerrit van Honthorst, Alessandro Magnasco, Bartolomeo Passerotti, José de Ribera, Jan Steen, Abraham Teniers, David Teniers the Younger, Simon Vouet, Jusepe de Ribera, Francisco de Zurbarán and many others.

Curated by Bice Curiger

Kunsthaus Zürich, Heimplatz 1, CH-8001 Zurich
Tel. +41 (0)44 253 84 84
www.kunsthaus.ch.

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