Galerie Rudolfinum

Decadence Now!

Visions of Excess

4. 10. 2010 – 2. 1. 2011
large gallery
Curator: Otto M. Urban

The Decadence Now! Visions of Excess is the international exhibition project of its kind which attempts to conceptually work with the concept of decadence in current art. The exhibition is not divided chronologically, but thematically into sequential sections which fluently and logically relate to each other, and which also create a sort-of imaginary closing circle.

parts of the exhibition

parts of the exhibition

Excess of the Self: Pain

Matthew Barney, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Gilbert & George, Gottfried Helnwein, Damien Hirst, Jürgen Klauke, Robert Mapplethorpe, Yasumasa Morimura, Catherine Opie, Pierre et Gilles, Cindy Sherman, Andreas Sterzing, Joel-Peter Witkin, David Wojnarowicz

Excess of the Body: Sex

Nobuyoshi Araki, Marc Bijl, Wim Delvoye, Martin Gerboc, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Jeff Koons, Niba, ORLAN, Jan van Oost, Pierre et Gilles, Andres Serrano, Cindy Sherman, Géza Szöllősi, Tsang Kin-Wah, Joel-Peter Witkin

Excess of the Beauty: Pop

Boaz Arad, Ondřej Brody, Jiří Černický, David Černý, Gilbert & George, Martin Gerboc, Gottfried Helnwein, Zsófia Keresztes, Nick Knight, Alexander Kosolapov, David LaChapelle, Zbigniew Libera, Alexander McQueen, Robert Miller, Yasumasa Morimura, NIBA, Shimon Okshteyn, Erwin Olaf, ORLAN, Pierre et Gilles, Jamie Reid, Terry Rodgers, Comenius Roethlisberger, Paolo Schmidlin, Richard Stipl, Géza Szöllősi, Mark Ther, Maciej Toporowicz, Joel-Peter Witkin.

Excess of the Mind: Madness

David Bailey & Damien Hirst, Matthew Barney, Josef Bolf, Gottfried Helnwein, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Jürgen Klauke, Joachim Luetke, Ikuko Miyazaki, Yasumasa Morimura, Catherine Opie, Zhang Peng, Joel-Peter Witkin

Excess of the Life: Death

Steven Gregory, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, Václav Jirásek, Robert Mapplethorpe, Jan van Oost, Ivan Pinkava, Joel-Peter Witkin

about the curator

about the curator

Otto M. Urban, Ph.D.

(born on February 9th, 1967)

Otto M. Urban studied the history of arts and aesthetics at the Chair of Art History of the Faculty of Philosophy at Charles University in Prague where he later worked as an assistant at the Chair of Art History and then as research worker of the Institute of Art History with the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague. Since 1993, he has been lecturing on the history of modern Czech art in the CIEE courses (1993-1999), The School of the Art Institute in Chicago (2003 – 2008), New York University, Prague (1999 – now). In the years 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2005 he lectured on the history of modern Czech art at the University of Texas in Austin and, and in 2007 at The School of the Art Institute in Chicago.

Since the beginning of the 1990s, he has been intensively studying Central European symbolism and, mainly, the issue of decadence. He was the author or co-author of many exhibitions and published professional papers on decadence and symbolism in scientific magazines in the Czech Republic and other countries. In 2002, he was the author and editor of the monograph titled Creative and Critical Work of Karel Hlaváček. In 2006, he prepared a large-scale exhibition and a book on decadence in Bohemian regions titled In Sickly Colours. The Idea of Decadence and Arts in Bohemia Regions 1880 – 1914. This exhibition also became an official part of the presentation of the Czech culture during the Czech chairmanship of the European Union.

The book “In Sickly Colours: The Idea of Decadence and Arts in Bohemia Regions 1880 – 1914” was nominated for the Magnesia Litera 2007 award in the category of educational literature. For this book and for the monograph titled Edvard Munch: To Be Alone. Paintings – Diaries – Echoes, the author was nominated for the F. X. Šalda prize for 2007 and 2008.

about exhibition

about exhibition

During the past several yeas, the concepts of decadence have begun to appear more and more in art theory, often in relation to current art. The commonness of the concept of decadence, or its parallel existence outside of the sphere of art, also enables new methodological processes and combinations, and discovers new territories and relationships. Decadent art is excessive, it exceeds the level of what is generally acceptable, and it provocatively demolishes the most sensitive taboos. Decadence is also firmly connected to the clear stance of outsider individualism.

Decadence is a theme which is topical in current culture, or better yet, it is once again topical. The apocalyptic feeling of ruin and crisis of our civilization incites the increased interest in the dark side of humans and of the world itself.

Starting on the 1970’s, we can monitor the continual effort of the artists like Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, Nobuyoshi Araki, Jake a Dinos Chapman, Robert Mapplethorpe, Damien Hirst, Zhang Peng, Keith Haring, Andres Serrano, Gottfried Helnwein etc. to work with typical decadent themes.

In relation to this, the increased interest in decadence from the view of the expert and lay public is also relevant. Exhibitions which present works of decadent art evoke enthusiastic reactions in the same manner as public scandals do. However, they always open discussions on an entire line of key themes like alienation, ugliness, beauty, hallucination, death, pornography, drugs, sickness and madness, that form basic questions of current culture and society.

It is also apparent that a theme which is seemingly obsolete and out-of-date, such as censorship (internal and external), once again makes an appearance on the scene in the context of the new political correctness. Decadent art is subversive, impulsive, it does not evoke indifference, but it requires the formulization of a clear stance. In this sense, decadence is excessive, extreme and also provocative. Alienation, seeming impartialness or depersonalized voyeurism is also a clearly profiled attitude of decadence.

This exhibition presents contemporary artists and their works in the fields of painting, sculpture, photography, and videos in five main areas, including Pop, extended by an independent installation, “Room No. 13,” in the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, which indicates current trends in fashion or design.

The exhibition shall be completed by an entire line of accompanying programs (music, film, literature etc.). The Arbor Vitae publishing house, in cooperation with Galerie Rudolfinum will release an extensive publication, whose author is Otto M. Urban, curator of the exhibition, that mapping the entire exhibition project from not only the graphic arts viewpoint, but also from the philosophical, historical and social viewpoints. Of course, a rich picture part documenting the exhibited works will be the centre point of the whole book.

about the project

about the project

Decadence Now! is the exhibition project for Galerie Rudolfinum, The Brno House of Arts, The Gallery of West Bohemia in Pilsen and DOX Centre for Contemporary Art.

h4. Exhibitions of Decadence Now!:

  1. Galerie Rudolfinum: Decadence Now! Visions of Excess (including instalation “Room No. 13” in The Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague )
  2. The Brno House of Arts: Joel Peter Witkin
  3. DOX Centre for Contemporary Art: Gilbert & George: Roads
  4. The Gallery of West Bohemia in Pilsen: Where the place – Upon the heath (Josef Bolf, Ivan Pinkava); curator: Petr Vaňous






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