An oversized St Bernard’s body masked with a sheep’s head and a regal peacock with penguin feet and flippers punctuate the start and end of Curiosity: Art and the Pleasures of Knowing at Turner Contemporary, Margate (until 15 September), curated by Brian Dillon. Art and artifacts from around the world represent the glory, revelations and threat of mankind’s inquisitive nature.
Thomas Grünfeld’s taxidermy misfits are just two examples of a witty and wondrous collection of objects that we wouldn’t usually have the opportunity to view outside their own dedicated museums or private homes.
Inspired by the cabinets of curiosities that flourished throughout 17th-century Europe, Curiosity displays previously unseen oddities, products of scientific investigations and faraway exploration: 18th-century ivory anatomical models are juxtaposed with photographs of 20th-century dioramas of unsettling and unexplained deaths; an Antarctic King penguin (above), brought back by Shackleton, lays down in contrast to the Horniman’s overstuffed, mammoth walrus; drawings of puzzles by Leonardo and ornithological watercolour studies by Turner hang alongside the Surrealist writer Roger Caillois’s agate collection.
Curiosity is a selection of fascinating examples of creativity by mad or genius thinkers throughout history, and brings together art and science in an insightful and aptly titled exhibition.
For further details on particular works and projects, the well illustrated catalogue is worth a purchase. Curiosity: Art and the Pleasures of Knowing is published by Hayward Publishing. Special exhibition price £17.99.
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