Endless Enigma: Eight Centuries of Fantastic Art explores the ways in which artists have sought to explain their world in terms of an alternate reality, drawn from imagination, the subconscious, poetry, nature, myth, and religion.
Endless Enigma takes as its point of departure Alfred H. Barr Jr.’s legendary 1936 exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism, which not only introduced these movements to the American public, but also placed them in a historical and cultural context by situating them with artists from earlier centuries.
Presenting works from the twelfth century to the present day, this catalogue is organized into six themes—Monsters & Demons, Dreams & Temptation, Fragmented Body, Unconscious Gesture, Super Nature, and Sense of Place. Works included range from medieval gargoyles to twentieth-century works by Louise Bourgeois, Sigmar Polke, and Pablo Picasso as well as contemporary works by Michaël Borremans, Marcel Dzama, and Raymond Pettibon. Masterworks from the likes of Piero di Cosimo, Francisco de Goya, and Titian are considered alongside those by William Blake and Odilon Redon. Time folds and temporal barriers collapse when Damiano Cappelli meets Edvard Munch, and Salvator Rosa encounters Luc Tuymans and Lisa Yuskavage. Salvador Dalí, Sherrie Levine, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Kerry James Marshall—eight centuries intersect and, as such, this wide-ranging catalogue examines affinities in intention and imagery between works executed across a broad span of time.
Organized in collaboration with Nicholas Hall, a specialist in the field of Old Masters and nineteenth-century art, this fully illustrated catalogue is published on the occasion of the eponymous exhibition at David Zwirner, New York, in 2018. It includes new scholarship by Dawn Ades, Olivier Berggruen, and J. Patrice Marandel.