The Iconography Of Death

Tracing the politically-tinged resurgence of the Danse Macabre art movement, popular in the medieval years, the exhibition Dernière Danse, focuses on Franco-German art from the mid 1800’s through to present day with living French artists such as Tanx and 19th century renowned Strasbourger Gustave Doré. The works are taken from a mix of private and local museum collections – and go some way to lifting the curtain on the modern-era of the fantastically macabre Dance of Death,

This particular collection of death in art focuses on 19th and 20th century graphic art – from lithographic prints and ink illustration through film and poster-work. Much of the displayed works at Dernière Danse, take on a comic form that is very different to the original movement that followed the Memento Mori philosophy – serving as a reminder, or even a warning, of death’s ever lingering presence, in an attempt to motivate people to live good and meaningful lives. This collection follows instead the politics of death aligned with farce. Many pieces are politically and erotically charged. Showing the extroversion of death – as a thing or a person – not necessarily as an eventual state.

Below from left to right: Welcome to The Death Blub By Winshluss, Spank By Tanx, a drawing from the book Rigor Mortis by Tomi Ungerer and Evacuation by Edmond Bille.

There is a small collection of medieval art – including several works from Albrecht Dürer – such as his seminal – Les quatre cavaliers de l’Apocalypse, but the collection is at its best when it shows the playful cumulative works of the contemporary lesser-known artists such as the aforementioned Tanxx, and local talents such as the excellent Tomi Ungerer, who, in his vintage, still lives in Strasbourg. See here for the Tomi Ungerer museum – also in Strasbourg.

Below from left to right: Two pages from the “Calendrier Antikamnia” by Louis Crusius and La Rue de la Vieille lanterne ou Allégorie sur la mort de Gérard de Nerval by Gustave Doré.

Dernière Danse will be at the Galerie Heitz in Palais Rohan until the 28/08/2016.