MoMA Museum of Modern Art

Wunderkammer: A Century of Curiosities

30 Jul - 10 Nov 2008

Installation view of the exhibition, "Wunderkammer: A Century of Curiosities"
July 30, 2008–November 10, 2008. IN2047.5. Photograph by John Wronn.

July 30–November 10, 2008

The Paul J. Sachs Prints and Illustrated Books Galleries, second floor

Wunderkammern, or cabinets of curiosities, arose in mid-sixteenth-century Europe as repositories for all manner of wondrous and exotic objects. In essence these collections—combining specimens, diagrams, and illustrations from many disciplines; marking the intersection of science and superstition; and drawing on natural, manmade, and artificial worlds—can be seen as the precursors to museums. This exhibition presents a contemporary interpretation of the traditional cabinet of curiosities, bringing together a diverse selection of works by twentieth- and twenty-first-century artists who have likewise felt the pull of unusual and extraordinary objects and phenomena. The works on display include prints, books, multiples, drawings, and photographs, with subjects ranging from architectural marvels and blueprints for impossible machines to oddities from the animal, vegetable, and mineral worlds. Featured artists include Hans Bellmer, Peter Blake, Louise Bourgeois, Max Ernst, and Damien Hirst, among others.

Organized by Sarah Suzuki, The Sue and Eugene Mercy, Jr., Assistant Curator of Prints and Illustrated Books.

Tags: Hans Bellmer, Peter Blake, Louise Bourgeois, Max Ernst, Damien Hirst