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The Thought of Death – Göteborgs konstmuseum

Older European prints meet the contemporary from the Collection

In today’s overwhelming stream of media we are increasingly exposed to images of death at the same time as we often avoid the earnest thought of death. In historical art from the 1400s to the 1600s, death was often the subject matter of religious images, as a reminder of the brevity of our life on earth. Death was an evident part of everyday life.

In the exhibition The Thought of Death, the overarching theme is the presence of death and how death has been expressed in visual art – today and historically. Older prints are shown together with the 3D-animated work Elements from 2011, by the artist Magnus Wallin. The exhibition comprises works from the museum’s collection that have rarely or never been shown before.

About fifteen prints are presented from the 1500s and 1600s by old masters such as Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) and Lucas van Leyden (1494–1533). These art works, full of symbols and details, show vanitas still lifes, apocalypse and Death personified in macabre scenes.

Magnus Wallin’s (born 1965) work Elements treats life and death with a focus on the functions and vulnerability of the human body. The work presents a vertiginous anatomical overview of body parts that turns into a carousel-like dance of death. Its visual style has clearly been influenced by the aesthetics of computer games, but physical sounds are also an important element in the work. A solo exhibition by Magnus Wallin was shown at the museum in 2010. You can also see his work Sport from 2007 in the Sculpture Hall.

The collection of prints at the Gothenburg Museum of Art comprises more than 50 000 works from the 1400s until today. A large number of the older prints were donated to the museum at around the turn of the century 1900, and the collection is of an international standing in terms of both scope and quality. The Gothenburg Museum of Art works actively with the collection and shows historical and contemporary works of art side by side. This exhibition provides a unique opportunity to see some of the museum’s prints.