Golem! Avatars of a legend of clay
Paul Wegener, Le Golem, comment il vint au monde, 1920. Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin
This exhibition explores the fascinating destiny of the Golem in the visual arts, in painting, drawing, photography, theatre, cinema, literature, comic books and video games.
En lien avec l'exposition le Centre tchèque propose un programme de films :
15 mai 2017 à 19 h
Un film de Martin Frič, 1951, 1h19, VOST.
22 mai 2017 à 19 h
Un film de Martin Frič, 1951, 1h05, VOST.
Au BAL :
Jeudi 6 avril à 20 h
Affiche de l'exposition Golem ! Avatars d'une légende d'argile
Visuel : Paul Wegener, Le Golem, comment il vint au monde, 1920. Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin
With 136 works lent by 28 institutions and private collectors, this exhibition explores the fascinating destiny of the Golem in the visual arts, in painting, drawing, photography, theatre, cinema, literature, comic books and video games. From a remarkable Sefer Yetzirah (“Book of Creation”), printed in Mantua in 1612, and excerpts from Terminator 2, to works by Boris Aronson, Christian Boltanski, Gérard Garouste, Antony Gormley, Philip Guston, Amos Gitaï, R.B. Kitaj and Anselm Kiefer, the exhibition shows how this medieval Jewish legend is still just as present in today’s globalised imagination.
A clay creature brought to life by sacred letters, the Golem is one of the most famous Jewish myths and one of the major figures of fantastic literature. Usually depicted as a giant with superhuman powers, it has constantly fascinated and acquired multiple meanings down the centuries.
In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the Golem was an entity familiar only to mystics, who debated the magical manipulations enabling one to bring it to life. In the 19th century the Golem became a popular figure, a creature destined to save the Jewish community from exploitation and persecution. Yet many narratives focus on the episode in which the Golem turns against its creator, Rabbi Judah Loew, and this inspired the first images of the Golem. In 1915, Hugo Steiner-Prag portrayed the Golem with disturbing, mongoloid features in his illustrations for the famous novel by Gustav Meyrink, and Paul Wegener’s portrayal of the clay creature in his 1920 film left an indelible mark on 20th-century imagination. The legend of the Golem has always fascinated artists, who have seen it as a metaphor of their role as creators capable of bringing inert matter to life. They have stressed the Golem’s ambivalence as both a miraculous and monstrous being, oscillating between humanity and inhumanity, protection and threat.
The malleability of this myth of a clay creature has engendered of a host of artificial, imaginary and real figures, and this fertile legacy now has spawned new progeny, notably in robotics and computer science. A precursor of superheroes and digital avatars, the Golem is also a figure that enables us to imagine a world in which man could lose control of his inventions.
Ada Ackerman, Thalim-CNRS and Paul Salmona, mahJ