Arch of Hysteria. Between Madness and Ecstasy
The Museum der Moderne devotes a grand thematic exhibition to the motif of the arched body. Titled Arch of Hysteria: Between Madness and Ecstasy, it features works by Auguste Rodin, Gustav Klimt, Alfred Kubin, Max Ernst, Louise Bourgeois, VALIE EXPORT, Robert Longo, and others.
A profoundly ambivalent figure between loss of self-control and utter self-possession, the so-called “arc de cercle,” the “grand” or “hysterical arch,” is an alluring motif with a long tradition in the history of art and culture. It appears both in depictions of dancers and acrobats and in illustrations of physical or psychological illness: the hyperextended (female) body can convey ecstatic rapture or a psychotic disorder as well as a virtuoso’s body control and expressiveness.
Arch of Hysteria is the first exhibition to focus entirely on this potent and prolific motif. Works of art from the past century drawn from a wide variety of contexts demonstrate the versatility of pose’s expressive potential—including its transmutation into abstract yet no less evocative and distinctive forms. The presentation sheds light on the motif’s (art-)historical roots as well as its more recent adaptations in painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, and video and performance art; several artists are creating works especially for the exhibition.