Mannerism is “very, very complicated. It can be a secret language if you’re not initiated into it […] even to the point of being obscure,” warned Susan Wegner, associate professor of art history, during a recent conversation in Bowdoin’s Visual Arts Center. Luckily for Museum visitors, Professor Wegner and her fall “Mannerism” class are creating a guide to this complex period with their exhibition, Beautiful Monstrosities, Elegant Distortions: The Artifice of Sixteenth-Century Mannerism, which will be on view in the Becker Gallery from April 12 through June 5, 2016.
Curating an exhibition with Professor Wegner this semester has been thrilling, according to Sarah Drumm ’18, “not only because of the chance to share my work with my peers but also to gain a greater familiarity with, and understanding of, the Museum’s fantastic collection.” Focusing on the work of artists employed in European courts during the 16th century, Beautiful Monstrosities is particularly exciting because it will provide access to a rarefied world. As Acadia Mezzofanti ’19 explains, “during the Mannerist period, [art] was really reserved for the people of the highest ranks of society to interpret.” Through her and her classmates’ research and preparation for the exhibition, Mezzofanti hopes to provide an opportunity for all visitors to gain an understanding of the Mannerist period. Beautiful Monstrosities, Elegant Distortions: The Artifice of Sixteenth-Century Mannerism opens April 12, 2016.