There seems to be a zeitgeist for curiosities in the art world, also known as cabinets of curiosities.
I’ve just sadly missed one such exhibition! curiosity: art and the pleasures of knowing
This wonderful looking exhibition in margate, kent (ended on the 15th september) described itself as: ‘enter a world of wonder, fascination and inquiry. Experience the spectacular and the bizarre, the startling and mysterious, contemporary art alongside historical artefacts, as the gallery becomes a cabinet of curiosities.’
Furthermore, although on my list to visit, i also never made it to the studies for mind pop-up gallery at the sir john soane’s museum. To coincide with the london design festival, the museum presented a cabinet of curiosities of five designer’s works.
It will therefore come as no surprise that when i discovered that there’s yet another exhibition on cabinets of curiosities here in london, i wasn’t going to miss this one. Art of the curious, an exhibition of the rare, the bizarre and the beautiful is housed in the rather spectacular colnaghi gallery on old bond street.
This collaborative exhibition, in conjunction with munich’s kunstkammer georg laue gallery, beautifully illustrates the spirit of the 17th century cabinets of curiosities (known as kunstkammer and wunderkammer). To make it relevant to the present, they’ve included pieces of living contemporary artists that could relate to the subject.
Katrin bellinger, the gallery’s co-owner notes: “With damien hirst’s animals in formaldehyde, skulls seen on alexander mcqueen scarves and fashion shops embracing taxidermy, an interest in kunstkammer has moved into the mainstream.”
Ok, all pieces on show are for sale and range from £300 to £750.000 but i urge you to forget the price tags and just go along if you can to see the wonderful array of curiosities. The gallery is situated in a wonderful house and the exhibition is on the second and third floor with gorgeous views!
I particularly liked Steffen dam‘s work. It’s a contemporary take on the some more ‘macabre’ objects used in the 17th century.
Look at these botanical teaching models by robert and reinhold brendel.
Confession time, i’ve always had a bit of a weakness for these vanitas skulls.
The mole cricket and lantern fly by pieter holsteijn were breathtaking but sadly out of my price range at £42.000 and £37.500 respectively.
Bernard durin‘s study of a beetle from new guinea has been sold. The colours are piercingly beautiful!
Another great piece i could have gladly taken home with me. Sarah Graham‘s Titanus Giantess.
Natasha daintry‘s skin deep is a direct response to the life-like wax head of an indian man (see below) which was part of a kunstkammer collection. This installation of small porcelain cylinders is stunning!
Last but certainly not least, one of the most spectacular pieces in the exhibition. This painting by jan brueghel the younger, entiltled floral still life is €860.000 It sits quite unassuming next to other pieces. My photo doesn’t do it any justice.
If you love cabinets of curiosities, old master paintings and the juxtaposition of the new and old, then this exhibition is a must!
Art of the Curious, 2-20 2013 October at Colnaghi, 15 Old Bond Street, London W1