21er Haus

Arsenalstraße 1
1030 Vienna
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Sleepless – The bed in history and contemporary art

From Jan 30, 2015 until Jun 7, 2015
Juergen Teller, Young Pink Kate, London, 1998
Courtesy the artist and Christine König Galerie, © Juergen Teller
Larry Clark, Untitled (T40), 1971
Courtesy of the artist and Simon Lee Gallery, Photo: © Larry Clark
Bettina Rheims, Madonna laughing and holding her breasts, New York, September, 1994
Courtesy Jérôme de Noirmont, Paris, © Bettina Rheims
Maria Lassnig, Hospital, 2005
Private Collection, Courtesy Hauser & Wirth, Photo: © Archiv Hauser & Wirth
Gustav Klimt, Old man on deathbed, 1899
© Belvedere, Vienna

Location: 21er Haus

More than forty years ago, John Lennon and Yoko Ono got into bed to protest against the war. The world’s most popular artist couple of that time made their honeymoon public by stating: “Make love, not war!”. Simultaneously, the bed turned into a political instrument of visual art.

The exhibition Sleepless. Beds in History and Contemporary Art focuses on the historical as well as iconographic significance of the depiction of the bed and will include and juxtapose paintings, sculptures, drawings, photos, and video works spanning from old masters to present-day artists, subdivided into themes and arranged according to visual associations.

As the territory of birth, love, illness, and death and as the most anthropomorphic shape in the history of all civilizations, beds are possibly one of the most reproduced objects in art and one of the most common metaphors for the human condition. The vast majority of people are born on beds; one can even claim that the inexplicable miracle of life starts on a bed. A key work of the show is a sixteenth-century painting by Lavinia Fontana, who rendered a secular portrait of an infant in a cradle – supposedly the first of its kind in art history. This tradition of the display of birth in art has continued down to the present day - realised in works by Robert Gober or Sherrie Levine.

Many artists made use of the bed’s idiosyncratic shape in their work, from Nobuyoshi Araki, Diane Arbus, Lucian Freud, and Yayoi Kusama to Jannis Kounellis, Antoni Tàpies, Rosemarie Trockel, Egon Schiele, Jürgen Teller, or Franz West, and Rachel Whiteread. Others, as Tracey Emin, Mona Hatoum, Damien Hirst, Jim Lambie, and Sarah Lucas demonstrate, used the bed as a ready-made itself.

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© 2014 Österreichische Galerie Belvedere
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