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Ahlen Art Museum to Present a Special Exhibition "Intimacy! Bathing in Art"

Xenia Hausner, "Bambi", 2005. Mixed Media auf Dibond, 124 x 186 cm. Privatsammlung/private collection.

BERLIN.- The Ahlen Art Museum will be presenting in this exhibit the historical developments, contextual significance, and especially the artistic reflections of the topic 'bathing.' In the exhibit, 140 works by 90 artists will be presented, including Pierre Bonnard, Louise Bourgeois, Gustave Caillebotte, William N. Copley, Gregory Crewdson, Edgar Degas, Albrecht Dürer, Eric Fischl, Marie-Jo Lafontaine, Xenia Hausner, David Hockney, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Édouard Manet, Bettina Rheims, Norbert Tadeusz, and Bill Viola.

The artworks span from the late Middle Ages to contemporary art and come from various countries such as Germany, France, Great Britain, Finland, and the US, from major public collections as well as distinguished private collections. The exhibit will include oil paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, photography, videos, and installations. “The exhibit functions by means of the diversity and possibilities of the exciting dialogue between artistic experiential and initiated individual contemplation – for the viewer as well as the artist,” says Burkhard Leismann. “In its form and composition, the exhibit offers a seldom seen piece of artistic intimacy.”

Famous stories from the bible and ancient mythology are entwined with the motif of bathing, such as "Susanna in the Bath" the biblical Bathsheba, or the Roman goddess of the hunt, Diana. Moments of forbidden viewing and of secretive discovery play here a central role. Since Durer, profane bathing scenes offered the artist the opportunity to contemplate and depict the otherwise concealed female body. In modern art, artists challenge the present conceptions of beauty and morality. The intimacy of the absent-minded preoccupation with the bathing body leads one to turn inward and allows one to reflect about one's own transience and mortality. Nudity's absence of protection has also found its way into the artwork, which visualize the crossing of borders and breaking of taboos.

Water has always served not only as a physical, but also as a spiritual or moral rehabilitation. When submerged in water, the body loses its weight and its contact to the ground. During a baptism, or during the ritual foot or hand washing, one is purified as a physical-spiritual whole. The main idea of such a comprehensive water rehabilitation, which is expressed in the sense of a fountain of youth, has survived to this day in the conception of the modern spa and is also reflected upon artistically.

The Ahlen Art Museum | Intimacy! Bathing in Art | Pierre Bonnard | Louise Bourgeois | Gustave Caillebotte | Burkhard Leismann |


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