24.1. — 20.6.16
The Musée Unterlinden invited the people behind its extension and refurbishment, Herzog & de Meuron in association with the art historian Jean-François Chevrier to plan its inaugural exhibition. “Acting, contemplating” occupies two majestic spaces: the new temporary exhibition gallery on the second floor of the Ackerhof, beneath the dual-pitched roof, and the former Baths (the “Piscine”), which will host screenings and performances. Contemplation and action are two levels of experience that have played a major role in defining the history of the arts in Europe from the Middle Ages and the age of cloisters (devoted to the contemplative life) to our current screen-dominated age. Rather than two distinct paths, they are two dimensions that co-exist to different degrees within most artworks. Since the Renaissance, painting has presented human actions for contemplation, providing a contemplative representation of action. In the seventeenth century, Nicolas Poussin stated that “painting is nothing other than the imitation of human actions”. The exhibition connects two historic orientations: the figurative representation of human actions, which, since the dawn of Romanticism in the late 18th century has also included subjective interpretation and fantasy; and the development of new forms from the 1960s, which arose from contact between the visual and performance arts, but also from the role of chronicling human actions assumed by photography and cinema.