Conceived in a dialogue between Maurizio Cattelan and Chiara Parisi, director of Centre Pompidou-Metz and curator of the exhibition with Anne Horvath, Arcimboldo Face to Face offers an unprecedented journey, away from any chronology, into the meandering thought and timeless vocabulary of this mysterious sixteenth century painter.
Arcimboldo Face to Face reflects the current state of art through the eyes of 130 artists, whose selection was guided by the influence – assumed, unconscious or fantasized – that the Lombard master exerts on their thinking and art. Each of the 250 works in the exhibition bears the imprint of Arcimboldo’s unique creative freedom and follows a golden thread through the centuries until thepresent day.
Using cellular concrete, the unconventional scenography designed by the architects Berger&Berger suggests the cartography of a citadel in which generations, geographies and media collide.
Upon entering the Grande Nef of Centre Pompidou-Metz, visitors are confronted with the experience of Mario Merz’s installation, recomposed in its three original parts for the first time since 1987 – the Tribute to Arcimboldo, Cono and the Table de Chagny – with fruits and vegetables following the rhythm of the seasons. Francis Bacon’s Head VI (1949) is presented next to Hannah Höch’s collages; Wolfgang Tillmans’ Anders (Brighton Arcimboldo) (2005) is presented next to Otto Dix’s Study in the Catacombs of Palermo (1924); Cindy Sherman’s Untitled (#155) (1985) interrogates Hans Bellmer’s Doll (1935-1936). Elsewhere in the exhibition, the frescoes of Pompeii illuminate the masks of the store where James Ensor spent his life.Hungry for more?
Offering ample openings within its structure,the architectural space allows for the visitor to come across the new creations by Fernando and Humberto Campana, the monumental phosphorescent fountain Hills and Clouds (2014) by Lynda Benglis, the impressive Garden Guardian (17th century) – the only existing Arcimboldesque sculpture – or the secret Prague cabinet by legendary contemporary surrealist filmmaker Jan Švankmajer. Further on, Lavinia Fontana’s portrait of Antonietta Gonzalez (1594-1595) from the Royal Castle of Blois, Pierre Huyghe’s video Untitled (Human mask) (2014) and Zoe Leonard’s portraits of the bearded woman from the Orfila Museum (1991) stand alongside each other.
Just as the surrealists – who are featured in the exhibition with a selection of masterpieces from the Centre Pompidou’s collection – considered Arcimboldo as an endless source of inspiration, this face-to-face with Arcimboldo is also carried on by the contemporary scene. Recent works by Kerstin Brästch, Felix Gonzàlez-Torres, Rashid Johnson, Ewa Juszkiewicz, Cally Spooner, Hans-Peter Feldmann, and Ed Ruscha all bear witness to the importance of Arcimboldo’s vision to the education of generations of artists, from the past and the present.
In the Forum of Centre Pompidou-Metz, the installation Le désir attrapé par le masque, especially created for this exhibition by Annette Messager, unfolds in the form of a farandole of masked animals evoking the bizarre and the unknown, the ugly and the seductive, opening a reflection on hybridisation. As the visitor wanders through these unexpected encounters, they are invited to experience, in an intuitive way, the paradoxes between the human being and the animal, the vegetal and mineral, the natural and artificial, the brutality and refinement, the invention and nostalgia, rootedness and wanderlust. As the spirit of Arcimboldo, these extremes seem more necessary today than ever to be able to navigate the complex universe of artistic creativity.
Curators: Chiara Parisi, director of the Centre Pompidou-Metz and Anne Horvath, researcher at the Centre Pompidou-Metz, in a fruitful dialogue with Maurizio Cattelan, Patricia Falguières, and Antonio Pinelli.
Arcimboldo Face to Face
From May 29 to November 22, 2021
Lynda BENGLIS , Hills and Clouds, 2014
Penny SLINGER, I Hear What You Say, 1973
Ed Ruscha, Mood Doom, 2019
Maurizio CATTELAN, Sans titre, 2019
Installation de Mario Merz lors de l’exposition « L’Effet Arcimboldo » au Palazzo Grassi, 1987
Annette MESSAGER, Le désir attrapé par le masque, 2021
Giuseppe ARCIMBOLDO, Les Quatre Saisons – Le Printemps, 1563
Hans BELLMER, La Poupée, [1935-1936]
René MAGRITTE, Le Modèle rouge,