"Medieval Monsters: Terrors, Aliens, Wonders"

The Strange And Mysterious Role Of The Monster In The Middle Ages Is Subject Of New Morgan Exhibition

August 3, 2018

From dragons, unicorns, and other fabled beasts to inventive hybrid creations, artists in the Middle Ages filled the world around them with marvels of imagination. Their creations reflected a society and culture at once captivated and repelled by the idea of the monstrous. Drawing on the Morgan Library and Museum's superb medieval collection as well as loans from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, “Medieval Monsters: Terrors, Aliens, Wonders,” on view until Sunday, Sept. 23, examines the complex social role of monsters in medieval Europe. It brings together approximately 70 works spanning the 9th to 16th centuries and ranging from illuminated manuscripts and tapestry to metalwork and ivory.
The show explores three key themes: “Terrors” demonstrates how monsters enhanced the aura of those in power, whether rulers, knights, or saints. “Aliens” reveals how marginalized groups in European societies, such as Jews, Muslims, women, the poor, and the disabled were further alienated by being depicted as monstrous. The final section on “wonders” considers the strange beauties and frightful anomalies such as dragons, unicorns, or giants that populated the medieval world.
“In the medieval world, the idea of the monstrous permeated every level of society,” said Colin B. Bailey, director of the Morgan Library and Museum, “from rulers, and the nobility and the clergy, to agrarian and urban dwellers alike. Artists of the Middle Ages captured this phenomenon in images of beings at once familiar and foreign to today’s viewer. We are grateful to our guest curators Asa Simon Mittman and Sherry Lindquist for helping us bring this engrossing subject to the public.”
For more information, call 212-685-0008 or visit www.themorgan.org.


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