Special ExhibitionSleeping Beauty

What is beauty in contemporary art? An endeavor to unearth the “sleeping beauty” submerged in the depths of art today

“Beauty will be convulsive or not at all.” ––André Breton, Nadja

When we stumble across something beautiful, we are swept up in unexpected happiness.

What makes a beautiful thing beautiful? The definition of beauty was pondered by ancient Greek philosophers, who saw it as the state of a clear, directly perceivable form that meets certain conditions such as harmony, symmetry, and order. However, such standards of beauty became obsolete in the modern era. So how do we perceive beauty today? Is it possible to see beauty immediately on the visible surface of works of contemporary art, in which aesthetic elements – which must be clearly visually stated in order to come across – are so often buried beneath many layers?

In this exhibition commemorating 25 years since the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art opened, we present works from the museum collection by Yves Klein, Yayoi Kusama, Kazuo Shiraga, Tomio Miki, Donald Judd, Agnes Martin, and others, as well as major works from other museums in Japan and pieces by internationally active artists Ange Leccia, Motohiko Odani, Kazuna Taguchi, and Takahiro Iwasaki, offering viewers an opportunity to consider what beauty means today.

The power to awaken “sleeping beauty” is lurking within each one of us.

This exhibition focuses on the concept of beauty in an era in which art has become increasingly experimental and conceptual, and there is a tendency to neglect the aesthetic elements of a work. In particular it concentrates on the frequently addressed theme of the body, actively raising questions such as: What is it that sparks the subjective perception of beauty? Where can beauty be found? The show explores various aspects of beauty in contemporary art from angles such as deformation of the body, traces that evoke the absent body, the presence or absence of corporeality in works of art, and art that employs direct physical reactions to nature.

However, the goal of this exhibition is not to interpret the slippery concept of “beauty.” The stance it encourages viewers to take is aptly expressed by the first words spoken by the long-slumbering princess of the story: “Is it you, my prince? You have been long in coming” (Charles Perrault, “The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood”). It is the act of our standing face to face with each work of art that awakens the sleeping beauty lying shrouded within it.

We hope that this exhibition will provide an opportunity to encounter convulsive beauty in art, to commune with beauty directly, and for each visitor who comes face to face with awakened “sleeping beauty” to realize afresh that it is beauty that awakens us and replenishes the human spirit.

Date May 17-July 21, 2014
Hours 10:00-17:00 (Last admission 16:30)
*10:00-19:00 on July 20 and 21.
Closed Mondays (except July 21)
Admission Adults 1,030 (820) yen, university students 720 (620) yen, high school students, senior[65 years old and over] 510 (410) yen
*Figures in parentheses: Advance purchase and groups of 30 or more
*Junior high school students and younger: Free admission
Organized by The Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, The Chugoku Shimbun
Supported by Hiroshima Prefecture, Hiroshima Municipal Board of Education, Hiroshima FM Broad Casting., Ltd., Onomichi FM Broad Casting co., Ltd.