Without following a chronological sequence and beyond physiological, anthropological or art-theoretical discourses, the exhibition Glances from Time brings works from the collection into new constellations across epochs, lets eyes wander and glances meet – out of the pictures and into the pictures: from the Icon of Christ Pantocrator via Federico Barocci’s early Christian martyr to Auguste Renoir’s impressionistically painted toddler and the portraits of contemporary photography and video art. The view as language and form of energy becomes a perspective on the collection, the leitmotif of the selection. Looks out of time brings well-known and unknown works from the art museum’s holdings into new constellations, playfully pursues the theme of looking through the centuries in a variety of artistic techniques and media.
Glances bridge times
What can he still tell us today, the pain-clouded gaze of Lucretia , painted around 1530 by Cornelis Bazelaere? If Ferdinand Hodler fixed himself in the mirror in 1917 – the year before his death – he looks at us carefully today . Even in the new media, looks remain central: in photographic self-portrayals, MANON and Urs Lüthi paraphrase social role models, while at the same time taking up the classic tradition of reflection in self-portraits. The videos by Candice Breitz, Silvie Fleury and Roman Signer analyze contemporary body awareness and the position of the individual in modern society.
In our epoch of exuberant visual communication, it becomes obvious: looks bridge times. Coming from the past, they are able to create the present. They communicate within the work of art, determine directions, establish relationships and thus construct spaces inwards and outwards. They confront us with stories or they are aimed directly at us today.
The vernacular knows about the power of looks. We instinctively look for the eyes of our counterpart – or consciously avoid them. The look is the most direct, the most effective form of communication. Art has always understood that. The eyes in portraits or other representations of people attract our gaze, and we involuntarily follow the direction of their gaze. At that moment, an exchange began between the image, the audience, the artist. Glances tell and confront us with stories. Or they are aimed directly at today’s viewers, make eye contact, mediate, ask questions, encourage dialogue.
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