Animals and their people
18. Sep 2022 – 26. Mar 2023
The animal world is unleashed in the Art Chamber Rau. 68 exhibits tell the exciting story of the relationship between animals and humans from antiquity to the present, from the Egyptian cat mummy to contemporary photography. The works from the Rau Collection for UNICEF are complemented in the exhibition by a plenitude of museum and privately owned treasures.
Mythical animal creatures cavort in the art of antiquity and populate the altars of the Middle Ages. They are central figures in religion and popular belief, sometimes as helping gods, sometimes as feared demons, or accompanying saints. Such depictions reflect the traditionally close bond between animals and humans. This relationship is ambivalent, characterized by love and fear, by uncompromising possessiveness and the acceptance of a useful helper by man’s side.
Dairy cows, sheep, horses and chickens will take centre stage in baroque imagery. The untamed wild animal, on the other hand, remains prey. Freshly shot down, retrieved by the faithful hunting dog, it is captured in the popular hunting still lifes of this era. In the seductively colourful kitchen interiors of the 17th and 18th centuries, on the other hand, the animal appears more and more fragmented. Faceless, de-individualized, it becomes a commodity.
In contrast, domestic animals such as dogs, cats, and horses have increasingly become our closest friends and companions since the 18th century. While in classical portraits the greyhound served the lord of the hunt as a badge of nobility, it now sits next to him as a companion and lap dog almost on an equal footing.
Finally, the exhibition also takes us into the present. Photographic animal portraits by Ursula Böhmer or Walter Schels bring us to eye level with our fellow creatures, while the sculpture of two peacefully grazing blue horses by Johannes Brus reminds us of a lost paradise, far removed from species extinction and climate change.