wes anderson curated an exhibition in Vienna, here are some photos
It's called 'The Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and other Treasures'!
Wes Anderson & Juman Malouf in front of The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder © KHM-Museumsverband, photo: Rafaela Proell.
This article originally appeared on i-D Italy
Imagine Wes Anderson and his partner, Juman Malouf – a designer, illustrator and writer who was born in Beirut but grew up in London – with the entire collection of a museum at their disposal. That is the concept of the exhibition that was inaugurated at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna a couple of weeks ago, on the 5th of November. Entitled Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and other Treasures, the exhibition is part of a long-term project created by the Austrian institution, in which prestigious artists are asked to personally curate ad hoc exhibitions using materials and taking inspiration from the museum’s immense archive.
The first to be asked was painter and illustrator Ed Ruscha who curated The Ancients Stole All Our Great Ideas exhibition in 2012, followed by During the Night by the British potter and writer Edmund de Waal in 2016. The exhibition by Wes Anderson and Juman Malouf is the third in the series.
Wes and Juman are exactly as you’d imagine them to be: a couple of weirdos who seem like they’ve just stepped out of a film directed by Anderson himself. And the criterion with which they built their exhibition was just as odd. It took them two years to examine the more than four million objects kept in the museum's 14 collections in order to select 423 for their project.
Among the chosen objects, 350 actually came from the museum's warehouse and have never before been shown to the public.
Anderson and Malouf have left behind all history of art logic, to exclusively follow their tastes and their intuition. There is no hierarchy, chronology or topography: to guide this five thousand year long journey, there are visual and chromatic suggestions, but also moods and connections suggested by the objects themselves. There is a trial-and-error logic that invites us to look at the old in a new way.
Do not expect to find explanations written on signs: there aren’t any. And so, a sculpture of Jesus Christ stands next to a tribal piece or artwork carved in wood; the subjects being in the same position show an otherwise invisible affinity between two very distant worlds.
In one room, there are only green objects of every kind and every era, and in another we find an assortment of adorable little animal figures. And then there are three Emu eggs in a custom-built case that looks like an incubator, and the tiny sarcophagus of a shrew placed at the center of the exhibition. There are also 16th century portraits of the Petrus Gonsalvus family, all suffering from hypertrichosis, and 22 exposed busts, arranged not in chronological order but according to size.
This is what happens if you give Wes Anderson a blank slate. He must have driven Jasper Sharp and the other editors of the Kunsthistorisches Museum insane, but it was definitely worth it. If you don't manage to book any flights to Vienna, maybe try for Milan: the exhibition has been set up in collaboration with the Prada Foundation, which means it will also go on show in the Italian fashion capital in 2019. To get an idea of what you are in for, here are some images from the exhibition opening.
The Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and other Treasures will be on show at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna until the 28th of April, 2019. For more information click here.
Images courtesy of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.