Faculty of Humanities
University of Amsterdam


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The Mystery of Transformation 5.4.2014 – 10.8.2014 For the first time in Germany, an exhibition spanning all epochs and genres will be introducing the exciting link between art and alchemy in past and present times. 250 works from antiquity to the present, encompassing Baroque art, Surrealism, through to contemporary art from collections and museums in the USA, Great Britain, France, Mexico and Israel reveal the fascination which alchemy exerted for many visual artists. Artists featured in the exhibition, such as Joseph BeuysJan Brueghel the Elder, Lucas Cranach the Elder,Max ErnstHendrick GoltziusRebecca HornAnish KapoorYves KleinSigmar PolkeRembrandt van RijnPeter Paul Rubens andDavid Teniers the Younger invite visitors to explore the mystery of transformation. Alchemy was invariably practised in secret, but was by no means a rare occurrence until well into the 18th century: Eminent personalities, including Paracelsus, Isaac Newton and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, were alchemists, too. It was not until the Age of the Enlightenment that alchemy was ousted and became intermingled with occultism, sorcery and superstition. In connection with 19th and early 20th-century psychoanalysis alchemy was brought to new life. The exhibition was conceived by Museum Kunstpalast in cooperation with the research group “Art and Knowledge in Pre-Modern Europe” at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, as well as a group of experts at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia, which also provided many pieces on loan. A Wunderkammer of curious and exotic treasures from flora and fauna is offered for visitors to explore. In an extensive accompanying programme the subject of art and alchemy will be expanded upon by means of lectures, talks and guided tours. For the exhibition, a studio for children was set up, where the theme of “The Alchemy of Colour” is explored by taking a close look at colours, along with their archetypical elements and production. Programme Quadriennale Düssedorf 2014>>
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