Nightfall: Gothic Imagination Since Frankenstein

2 Dec 2016
19 Mar 2017
Musée Rath
Place Neuve
1204 Geneva

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‘The Return of Nightfall’, 2016-17, exhibition view (left to right): William Blake, after Johann Heinrich Füssli, Head of a Damned Soul, c. 1788–90. The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; Aiko Tezuka, Loosening Fabric #5 (Nightfall), 2016. Courtesy: the artist; George Romney, Study for a Fiend’s Head (I), undated. The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; photograph: Sandra Pointet

‘Nightfall: Gothic Imagination Since Frankenstein’, 2016–17, exhibition view (left to right): William Blake, after Johann Heinrich Füssli, Head of a Damned Soul, c. 1788–90. The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; Aiko Tezuka, Loosening Fabric #5 (Nightfall), 2016. Courtesy: the artist; George Romney, Study for a Fiend’s Head (I), undated. The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; photograph: Sandra Pointet

In 1816, Mary Shelley and her husband Percy travelled to Geneva to visit Lord Byron, then in exile in the countryside near Lake Geneva. The same year, volcano Tambora erupted in Indonesia, the biggest volcanic eruption ever recorded. It caused what was later described as ‘The Year Without a Summer’ in the Northern Hemisphere resulting in the worst famine of the 19th century. The bad weather and dark atmosphere would inspire Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein, published two years later. ‘Nightfall: Gothic Imagination Since Frankenstein’ is an extensive survey of Gothic motivations and themes in art over the years, with works from the 16th century until today. Sarah Lucas’ neon coffin and Sterling Ruby’s fabric sculptures happily neighbour early Francisco de Goya engravings and watercolours by John Ruskin. Surpassing the typical Medieval aesthetics and horror-story iconography, the exhibition brings a new reading of the Gothic, while tracing its controversial history.
- Elise Lammer

Read more about this and other recommended exhibitions currently on view in the city in our Critic's Guide to Geneva