The Dark Side Exhibition Peers into Romanticism's Realm of Evil

A new exhibition in Frankfurt focuses on the dark side of the Romantic movement. Works from artists including Dalí, Goya and Munch examine themes of good and evil, sanity and madness and suffering and lust. Just the thing for the long winter evenings.

As autumn's dusky mantle begins to settle over Germany, the doors to a fitting new exhibition that explores the gloomy side of the Romantic movement have creaked open in Frankfurt.

Visitors to the city's Städel Museum are taken to a strange twilight world with the nightmarish visions, Satanic rites and somber death scenes featured in "Dark Romanticism: From Goya to Max Ernst," which opened on Wednesday.

"The art works speak of loneliness and melancholy, passion and death, of the fascination with horror and the irrationality of dreams," the museum says in a statement.

Some 240 works from more than 70 artists comprise the show, encompassing some 150 years of fascination with mysticism and the supernatural. The paintings, sculptures, photographs and films were created by prominent artists such as Francisco de Goya, William Blake, Caspar David Friedrich, Johann Heinrich Fuseli, Edvard Munch, René Magritte, Hans Bellmer, Salvador Dalí, and Max Ernst. While some come from the Städel's own halls, others are on loan from internationally recognized collections like the Musée d'Orsay and Musée du Louvre in Paris, the Museo del Prado in Madrid and the Art Institute of Chicago.

The exhibition categorizes the works both chronologically and geographically with an aim toward linking various interpretations of Romanticism, the post-Enlightenment movement that began sweeping across Europe by the end of the 18th century and continued its influence long after.

Good and Evil

After the Enlightenment illuminated the Continent through reason and the ideals of classical beauty, the horrors of the French Revolution began to disillusion young creatives, who turned to what the curators call "the reverse side of reason."

"The horrific, the miraculous and the grotesque challenged the supremacy of the beautiful and the immaculate," the statement says.

The artists focus on the interplay between good and evil, light and dark, suffering and lust, the real and imaginary, sanity and madness, repression and passion, and the conscious and unconscious. In other words, plenty for visitors to ponder throughout the long winter months.

The exhibition "Dark Romanticism: From Goya to Max Ernst"  runs until Jan. 20, 2013, after which it will travel to the Musée d'Orsay in Paris from March 4 to June 9, 2013.

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