Timeless Eroticism - A Unique Exhibition in the Print Room

Jakob Binck, Venus, 1530, engraving, Maryan Mehlhorn  Masterpiece: Bikini&Pareo, Crystal Blue, Summer 2016

Press Release

Timeless Eroticism: A Unique Exhibition in the Print Room
28 July 2016

Adverts for perfume, jeans and lingerie are what dreams are made of, just as prints were more than five centuries earlier. Collector Martin Hesselbein discovered a remarkable similarity. As guest curator he has combined Renaissance prints with corresponding fashion ads to stunning effect.

Sensual and sexy: advertising photographers know how to seduce consumers. The codes are clear and familiar. Models are more beautiful and slimmer than ordinary people; the world they live in is ideal and always filled with sunshine. They lean gracefully against a wall or look challengingly at the passer-by with an erotically-charged gaze.

Swiss-born collector Martin Hesselbein discovered how classical the poses of models in fashion adverts actually are and just how much they appear to have been copied from fifteenth- and sixteenth-century prints. As guest curator he is staging a small exhibition in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s Print Room, featuring prints dating from 1475 to around 1550. They are placed alongside fashion ads that Hesselbein has torn out of magazines over the years. There are prints by such artists as Jakob Binck, Marcantonio Raimondi and Cherubino Alberti alongside adverts for brands including Versace, Armani Red and Jil Sander. Together, the prints and adverts provide an extraordinary feast for the eye.

Shop Window
Prints had a clear function in the Renaissance: they were a kind of shop window in which artists could display their mastery of perspective and their brilliant technique. Like the advertisements of today, it was a way to publicize their work.

The prints Hesselbein has selected have hedonistic overtones and combine with the adverts to communicate the ultimate sense of carpe diem. ‘They contain just as explicit a promise of sensuality as modern fashion photography,’ he says. As Peter van der Coelen, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s Curator of Prints and Drawings, explains, ‘this exhibition gives visitors a fresh, new take on prints.’

Print Room
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s Print Room is one of the world’s finest. It holds around 15,000 drawings and 65,000 prints. It boasts famous drawings by Dutch, Flemish, German, French, Spanish and Italian masters, among them Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Bruegel, Rubens, Rembrandt, Goya and Cézanne. The Print Room also has prints and drawings by modern and contemporary artists including Salvador Dalí, René Magritte, Yayoi Kusama and Paul Noble.

Timeless Eroticism: Renaissance Prints and Fashion Photography runs from 13 August to 9 October