Masks tell the European Story

Because it discloses through disguise and disguises by disclosing, the mask touches the very roots of mankind and life itself. While in the cultures of antiquity it was of major importance as a cult object and a theater requisite since the mid-19th century the mask experienced a remarkable renaissance in Europe: Its »disconcerting strangeness« is experienced as extraordinary enrichment and aesthetic revival. The suggestive power of masks – with its capacity to reflect the whole individual or even create him anew – inspired numerous artists, sculptors and photographers about 1900. For the first time ever the comprehensive themed exhibition “Masks. Metamorphoses of the Face from Rodin to Picasso“ places the focus squarely on masks as the subject and motif of art. In the historical exhibition building on the Mathildenhöhe in Darmstadt masterpieces by Arnold Böcklin, Jean Carriès, Jean Cocteau, Paul Gauguin, Emil Nolde and Auguste Rodin – together with numerous new discoveries will document the heyday of mask art between 1860 and 1930, while also looking back as far as antiquity. The international themed exhibition staged in cooperation with Musée d’Orsay, Paris and NY Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen shows two hundred exhibits from all categories of art. Therefore it creates not only a gallery of real portrait pictures but also imaginary faces which reveals the radical nature of the subject as well as formal and material experiments in the late 19th and early 20th century. Major film presentation of these years completes the fascinating panorama of mask art.