Sunday, February 5, 2012

Morbid Curiosity: The Richard Harris Collection [Kunstkammer]

The traditional name for a "Cabinet of Curiosities", like this exhibition space was "Kunstkammer" - an art room where arts and treasures from all over the world were kept and studied. In the European tradition, wealthy collectors assembled works of contemporary painting and sculptures, ancient art from excavations, specimens from around the natural world, new scientific instruments, and cultural artifacts from exotic places. All the treasures of the world were collected so that the affluent could enjoy and study them. The collectors were royalty or aristocrats, who competed with each other to acquire the most impressive marvels from all over the world. These cabinet played an important role in intellectual history; the process of studying, classifying and recording new plants, animals and artifacts from Asia, Africa and Americas led Europe of a greater knowledge of and appreciation for the diversity of the world.

The Harris Collection recreates the approach, but unifies the collection by focusing on one issue: human mortality. In doing so Richard Harris has created a collection that can be enjoyed and studied on many different levels. The variety of cultures and historical periods found in the room are testament to an ongoing, permanent interest in this theme. Humankind has been coping with death and mortality for its whole history. Different cultures and religion have developed varying attitudes towards death and the afterlife; but they are united in their interest in the topic; it is universally relevant. The arrangement of the works in this room encourages viewers to make connections, and to recognize the shared interest and different assumptions, among object from very different periods and locations..

Some highlights..
The Salon Wall..
Skull Table...
Day of the Dead / Die de los Muertos ..
Portraits by Marcos Raya..
Mortality viewed by European Masters..
Mortality viewed in Eastern Tradition [yet to post]
Bone Chandelier "In the Eyes of Others", by Jodie Carey..
Sculpture "Death of Venus", by Roger Reutimann
Sculpture "Mr. and Mrs. Bones", by Cales Weintraub..
And many more sculptures, posters and paintings in the gallery, exploring the theme of mortality.

The Salon Wall..

Skull Table...

Bone Chandelier "In the Eyes of Others", by Jodie Carey..

Sculpture "Death of Venus", by Roger Reutimann

Sculpture "Mr. and Mrs. Bones", by Cales Weintraub..

Day of the Dead alter..

Dance of Dead..

Morbid Curiosity: Richard Harris Collection
Location: Sidney Yates Gallery at the Chicago Cultural Center..
January 28 – July 8, 2012
Curator: Lucas Cowan
Co-Curator: Debra Purden
Director of Exhibitions: Dr. Elizabeth Lee Kelly..
Presented by Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events in partnership with the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture..

Morbid Curiosity: Richard Harris Collection..

1 comment:

ispeakart said...

this seems like an amazing exhibit, I am going to def try and make it there!