press release

Co-organized by Kunsthaus Zürich and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Riotous Baroque. From Cattelan to Zurbarán – Tributes to Precarious Vitality strikes up a dialogue between 17th-century artworks and contemporary pieces in an attempt to extricate the concept of the Baroque from its conventional stylistic pigeonhole, moving away from clichés such as pomp, rich ornament, or gold and instead focusing on the Baroque as a "tribute to precarious vitality": the riotous yet uncertain nature of existence.

The show juxtaposes works by great 17th-century masters such as Pieter Aertsen, Giovanni Battista Langetti, Alessandro Magnasco, José de Ribera, Jan Steen, David Teniers the Younger, Simon Vouet, and Francisco de Zurbarán with that of renowned contemporary creators like Maurizio Cattelan, Robert Crumb, Urs Fischer, Glenn Brown, Tobias Madison, Paul McCarthy, and Cindy Sherman, among others. Rather than drawing superficial thematic and formal analogies, the exhibition attempts to enable the two realities, with all their differences and affinities, to collide, cross-fertilize and permeate each other, inviting the audience to see them in a whole new light.

In the words of Bice Curiger, curator of the exhibition, Riotous Baroque does not seek to "host a festival of masterpieces," nor does it attempt to "proclaim a neo-Baroque stylistic tendency"; rather, it aims to bring an art separated from us by several centuries into the world of the comprehensible, the world of experience: "In our age of massive revolutions in visual and communications media, revisiting an epoch that celebrated the visible and the sense of sight as a popular allegorical motif is both pleasurable and meaningful. The impulses of the present day will perhaps open up new ways for us to look at old art."

More than one hundred works fill the third-floor galleries of the Museum, with an arrangement inspired by cinematographic montage techniques that invites us to look back at history from a contemporary perspective, exploring a wide range of popular Baroque themes such as earthiness, coarseness, religiosity, and sensuality, the grotesque, the burlesque, and the virile from multiple angles.

In addition to pieces from Kunsthaus Zürich, the show features loans from some of Europe's leading Old Masters museums, such as the Museo de Bellas Artes of Bilbao, the Prado Museum, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, and the Städel Museum in Frankfurt. The exhibition also includes a number of invaluable works from private collections.

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Riotous Baroque: From Cattelan to Zurbarán
Tributes to Precarious Vitality

Pieter Aertsen, Glenn Brown, Maurizio Cattelan, Christian van Couwenbergh, Robert Crumb, Nathalie Djurberg / Hans Berg, Urs Fischer, Mike Kelley, Tobias Madison / Emanuel Rossetti, Paul McCarthy, Boris Mikhailov, Marilyn Minter, Albert Oehlen, Bartolomeo Passarotti, Nicolas Poussin, José de Ribera, Jacob van Ruisdael, Cornelis Saftleven, Cindy Sherman, Jan Steen, Jürgen Teller, Diana Thater, Ryan Trecartin / Lizzie Fitch, Oscar Tuazon, Simon Vouet, Rebecca Warren ...

Bice Curiger