VIENNA – Quirky American film director Wes Anderson marked his debut as curator of a show for Vienna’s Museum of Fine Arts (KHM) in a private view on Monday.
Anderson and his partner, Juman Malouf – a theater and film designer and illustrator – are the latest curators in a series of exhibitions for which the Austrian museum invites creative individuals to present and curate their selection of pieces from the museum’s vast historical art collection, which spans over four million objects.
Jasper Sharp, the head of contemporary art at the KHM, said at a press conference that the idea emerged when in 2015 he met Anderson and Malouf at the museum and he realized how familiar they were with the collection, having visited several times over the last decade.
The resulting exhibition, “Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and Other Treasures” is a labor of love involving regular visits between 2015-18 and an in-depth analysis of virtually the entire collection.
“The gathering and arrangement of these treasures – from the earliest, a necklace of ceramic beads strung together in Ancient Egypt, to the most recent, a wooden monkey carved in Indonesia almost 5,000 years later – suggest the spectacular breadth, depth, history and complexity of the KHM’s collections,” a statement on the KHM website said.
The logic behind the exhibition was to choose pieces that could be presented in a different light – in fact, many of the chosen objects have never been exhibited before – and to question what is considered aesthetically pleasing through the selection of decidedly eccentric artworks.
Anderson’s aesthetic is apparent throughout the show, from the way in which the artists chose to exhibit the pieces in small display cabinets in a deep red color, to the unconventional choice of odd pieces like the mummified shrew which gave the exhibition its name.
“Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and Other Treasures” runs at the KHM museum in Viena from Nov. 6 until April 29.