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Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum Announces Exhibition Focusing on Sexual Desire and Death
Giambattista Tiepolo, The Death of Hyacinth, 1752-1753. Oil on canvas, 287 x 235 cm. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid.
MADRID.- The close relationship between sexual desire and the death instinct – Eros and Thanatos – in the visual arts is the subject of this exhibition, whose title is taken from that of Georges Bataille’s book: Les larmes d’Eros. The exhibition also incorporates some of Bataille’s ideas on eroticism: the need for beauty, temptation as prohibition and transgression, and the parallels between the erotic and religious sacrifice. The exhibition focuses primarily on 19th-century European painting and sculpture, including the work of Canova, Ingres, Delacroix, Millais, Moreau and Rodin, but also looks back to earlier periods, in particular the Baroque with Rubens and Bernini. In addition it looks at later art, for example, the presence of 19th-century erotic themes in Surrealism and its wake. Figures and episodes derived from classical mythology and from the Judeo-Christian tradition make up this survey, which is organised into two principal sections: From Temptation to Sacrifice, which looks at the presence of death in erotic passion through themes such as the Birth of Venus, Eve and the Serpent, the Temptations of Saint Anthony, and the Kiss, and a second section entitled The Eternal Sleep, which analyses the subject of death and dying transformed into a trance similar to amorous ecstasy, present in themes such as Apollo and Hyacinth, Venus and Adonis, Mary Magdalen and the skull, and the “beautiful suicide victims”, Cleopatra and Ophelia.

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum | Canova | Ingres | Delacroix | Millais | Moreau | Rodin |

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