The history of Western art includes a great number of works that have become famous throughout the world. Many of these works have as their subject classical mythology, biblical stories, or notable people and events. This exhibition is a contemporary take on iconic works and stories from art history. Famous paintings and sculptures have served as inspiration for contemporary artists whose viewpoints range from veneration of old masters to critical contemplation of power structures.
The exhibition reminds us of the role museums have played in shaping the framework narrative of art history. In the 19th century national museum collections in Europe were opened for the public, giving fine art unprecedented audiences. Other efficient channels of dissemination alongside museums were art historical handbooks, prints, almanacs and copies. The exhibition book explores these background factors and the question of why certain works became inexhaustible sources of inspiration. Opened in 1888, the Ateneum Art Museum with its collections and exhibitions is an integral part of this constantly evolving story and chain of interpretation.
This exhibition was originally on show at the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm in spring 2020, and its main curators are Dr. Susanna Pettersson and James Putnam. At the Ateneum Art Museum, the exhibition is curated by the museum director, Marja Sakari, and the chief curator, Sointu Fritze.