Thursday 18 April 2024

The Occult in Exhibition: The Cult of Beauty

If you haven't seen The Cult of Beauty at London's Wellcome Collection, I recommend popping in and having a look before it closes. I was surprised at how many objects are related to magic, spirituality and world religions. 

The photo at the top, which I took when I was there, shows the sculptures 'Esquiline Venus' and 'Idolino' from 500 BCE. They are typically what many think of as ideal male and female bodies. Behind them you can glimpse another marble statue: ‘Sleeping Hermaphroditus’, which apparently combines ideas of the beauty of Venus with that of Dionysus/Bacchus. 

In another part of the exhibition you can find a print of Krishna. According to the Wellcome's description this, "challenges Christian associations of beauty with morals such as chastity," while "The Virgin of Guadalupe is a symbol of multicultural and multi-ethnic identities, especially in areas where different religions and cultural traditions meet."

I was also delighted to get another chance to see the alchemical Ripley Scroll (pictured right). This painted document shows a way of supposedly creating the philosopher's stone. A copy of the scroll can also be handled upstairs in the reading room.

The Cult of Beauty shows more than 200 items, including historical objects, art, films and new commissions, encouraging visitors to think about the influence of morality, status, health, age, race and gender on how ideas about beauty have developed, and to question what we might think about that.

The exhibition runs until 28 April at the Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE. Entry is free. You can find out more here:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So decorative