Fantastic animals have occupied a discreet but constant place in the contemporary imagination, as testified by their presence in works as diverse as Harry Potter and Game of Thrones. Their hybrid nature and monstrous appearance arouse fascination and revulsion, but, unlike humanoid monsters, they are regarded as creatures that man can tame, and even domesticate.
This exhibition explores the origin and functions of these ambiguous creatures, by turns images of terror and attraction inspired by the divine, the transcendent and the unknown, or expressions of our hidden unconscious, embodiments of our anguish and our nostalgia for the marvellous.
This exhibition will show the adventures and tribulations of iconic figures such as the sphinx, the dragon, the gryphon, the unicorn and the phoenix in a cross-cultural (and cross-media) approach, through works and objets d’art, architecture, literature, music and film. The aim is to give a broad audience new keys for understanding mythical, and even legendary figures, whose origins are often unknown.
Hélène Bouillon, director of conservation, exhibitions and publications at the Louvre-Lens
Jeanne-Thérèse Bontinck, research and exhibitions assistant at the Louvre-Lens
Caroline Tureck, research, documentation and scientific programming assistant at the Louvre-Lens
Assistées de Yaël Pignol, head of educational projects at the Louvre-Lens