29th May – 22nd November, 2021
Centre Pompidou-Metz

About the Exhibition

Conceived in a dialogue between Maurizio Cattelan and Chiara Parisi, director of Centre Pompidou-Metz and curator of the exhibition with Anne Horvath, Arcimboldo Face to Face offers an unprecedented journey, away from any chronology, into the meandering thought and timeless vocabulary of this mysterious sixteenth century painter.

Although Arcimboldo’s composite portraits are now universally known, the richness and diversity of his work remains to be discovered. Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1526-1593) was an inventor and a thinker whose thoughts and works go far beyond the question of portrait painting. The exhibition shows how his work has been influencing art history for five centuries and could shed a light on a number of current philosophical and political debates.

Arcimboldo Face to Face reflects the current state of art through the eyes of 130 artists, whose selection was guided by the influence – assumed, unconscious or fantasized – that the Lombard master exerts on their thinking and art. Each of the 250 works in the exhibition bears the imprint of Arcimboldo’s unique creative freedom and follows a golden thread through the centuries until the present day.

As the visitor wanders through these unexpected encounters, they are invited to experience, in an intuitive way, the paradoxes between the human being and the animal, the vegetal and mineral, the natural and artificial, the brutality and refinement, the invention and nostalgia, rootedness and wanderlust. As the spirit of Arcimboldo, these extremes seem more necessary today than ever to be able to navigate the complex universe of artistic creativity.