Art would seem to be a characteristic of Homo sapiens; since prehistoric times, it has always appeared in close conjunction with our fundamental interrogations on the questions of who we are, where we come from and what will happen to us. This link between spiritual disquiet and creativity has been deepened by all the great religions. Since the 18th century, in the Western world, the relationship between art and religion has changed considerably. The Reformation, the growth of capitalism, the ideas of the Enlightenment, the cult of reason, and the expansion of cities all led to what Max Weber called "disenchantment of the world". At the same time, the feeling of withdrawing from God as expressed by the Romantic artists, then the announcement that God was dead by Nietzsche at the end of the 19th century, plus the beginnings of psychoanalysis, and advances in physics and Marxism, all led to a rethinking of Man's place in creation, and as a consequence his relationship to religion.
Into this landscape of overturned beliefs, modern art was born. Although during this long process, the secularisation of society delivered artists from their subjection to the Church, the religious crisis did not mean the disappearance of metaphysical questioning. The thesis of this exhibition is that a section of modern and contemporary art was born out of these preoccupations.
The objective of the exhibition is therefore to explore the meanings of the persistence of this investigation throughout the 20th century and to show how – as an essential key to understanding the history of modern art – it continues to contribute to the creation of contemporary forms.
Through a large selection of paintings, sculptures, installations and videos, Traces du Sacré brings together some 350 major works including a number of pieces displayed for the first time in France by close to 200 internationally-renowned artists.
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