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Prometheus's Torches

Prometheus's Torches

Henry Fuseli and Javier Téllez

By (author) Bernhard von Waldkirch
By (author) Mirjam Varadinis


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  • Features a capital work of contemporary art
  • An interesting juxtaposition of romanticist and contemporary reflections on the Prometheus myth
Full Description

The mythic figure of Prometheus has inspired many poets, painters and musicians since the age of romanticism. For Goethe and Henry Fuseli, the titan who stole the fire from the gods of ancient Greece became the embodiment of mankind struggling for autonomy and self-determination.

Yet the fire has come not only to our benefit. Along with it came also menace upon mankind. This is the subject of a major work by Venezuelan artist Javier Téllez. In his film installation ½ Rotations (Prometheus and Zwitter) of 2011, two sculptures slowly rotate before a camera: Arno Breker’s (1900-91) Prometheus and Zwitter (hermaphrodite) by the German art-brut sculptor Karl Genzel (1871-1925). Both works were on display in the Nazi propaganda art shows of 1937 in Munich, Breker’s in the Great German Art Exhibition and Genzel’s in the coinciding defaming show Degenerate Art.

This new book juxtaposes paintings and drawings reflecting the Prometheus myth by Henry Fuseli with Javier Téllez’s capital work of contemporary art. It is published to coincide with an exhibit at Kunsthaus Zürich in summer 2014.

Text in English and German.

About the Author

Bernhard von Waldkirch studied art history and German and Romance literature and linguistics. He has been working as a research assistant at Kunsthaus Zürich 1985-98 and as the museum's curator of prints and drawings since 1998. Mirjam Varadinis studied art history, Italian literature, and social and economic history at the universities of Zürich ans Bologna. She has been a curator at Kunsthaus Zürich since 2002.

Scheidegger & Spiess
11th Feb 2015
Paperback / softback
World excluding Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Puerto Rico, United States, Canada, and Japan
235 mm x 170 mm
64 Pages
27 color, 11 b&w
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