A declaration of love to hair from one of the best museums in Paris that examines the theme from an anthropological point of view, the history of ancient and contemporary art, fashion and manners.
There is much more to hair than it appears: “The Art of Hair: Frivolities and Trophies”, an extensive exhibition held at Quai Branly in Paris by curator Yves Le Fur (Director of the Heritage and Collections Department at the musée du quai Branly) addresses the idea that individuals and social groups show their personality through hairstyle.
With 280 objects on display, the exhibition’s message is that hair has no fixed meanings as these changed dramatically with time even within the same cultures. The show does so by interpreting the different meanings from anthropology to history, from contemporary art to fashion, from religion to manners.
The show starts in a gallery with bronzes and marbles, black and white, that talk about the concept through the Wesernt and Eastern worlds: Busts of Louis XIV and Marie Josephine of Savoy stand next to busts of black and Chinese women, works by Charles Cordier, from the collections of the National Museum of Natural History.
Paintings, sculptures, photographs, reproductions, objects and multimedia installations show visitors the different forms that hair can take through the photographs of Samuel Fosso and J.D. Okhai Ojeikere, installation by Annette Messager but also photographs of singers and actresses in three different sections: Metamorphoses and permutations, The colours of the norm, Seduction.
The exhibition faces then the loss of hair, whether it is biological or forced (by repetition, sicknesses…). On show are also reliquaries of hair that evoke the memory of a person and photographs by Nobuyoshi Araki, and also a piece of hair from a young Carmelite nun given by André Breton to Jean-Jacques Lebel.
In another section is scrutinised the power of hair for non-European cultures that see it as a powerful instrument of decoration, or even a trophy (scalps are believed to give energy to the taker). This last section has four parts: Finery, Powerful adornments and magic charms, Trophies, Ancestors and the Beyond and sees exposed hundreds of objects from Musée de quai Branly made of hair, from relics to wigs.
The Art of Hair: Frivolities and Trophies
until July 14, 2013