From Meek as a Lamb
to Mad as a Hornet

22.10.2023 — 14.01.2024


Friend, companion in everyday life, food, mythical vision - the connection between animals and humans is as significant as it is complex. With the exhibition “Animals! From Meek as a Lamb to Mad as a Hornet”, the Kunstmuseum Moritzburg in Halle (Saale) delves into its own collections and presents how artists have dedicated themselves to the world of animals for centuries.

From small, intimate medals to photographic animal portraits, inspiring drawings, paintings, and sculptures to large-scale tapestries, horses, birds, fish, and various other animal species as well as mythical creatures can be admired. Thus, the animal, seen through the eyes of artists, becomes visible in its multiple facets.

In four chapters, the exhibition explores thematically and across collections the ancient and yet ever-renewing relationship between animals and humans in the mirror of art.

The tradition of portraying animals in European art offers a wide spectrum of artistic expression. It ranges from a meticulous representation of the creature to a stylization that condenses essential forms and supposed peculiarities of the respective animal.

photo: Marcus-Andreas Mohr © by the artists or their legal successors © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2023

Animals play an important role as motifs both in cultic and religious conceptions as well as in traditional myths, fairy tales, and stories. They are also attributed with symbolic meaning, which has evolved over time and is manifested in various forms of imagery. Heraldry and numismatics, for example, incorporate this symbolic meaning into coat-of-arms animals. Literary themes are constantly renegotiated in visual design: fables, such as the one about the fox and the raven, and novels, such as those of Don Quixote or Moby Dick, demonstrate that the animal has been a recurring fascination in cultural history.

The diversity in the everyday relationship between humans and animals is also addressed. Humorous portraits of dog and cat owners, depictions of zoo or circus animals, images of working animals, sports animals, and slaughter animals not only examine the beauty of the human-animal relationship but also its darker aspects. Additionally, small knick-knack figurines made of glass or porcelain convey the desire for a cozy home and the stuffed animals serve as a companions and comforters for babies and children.

Furthermore, visitors can expect a kaleidoscopic panorama of representations of animals in their respective habitats. Sleeping, eating, dozing, fleeing, hunting, flying, diving - sculptures, photographs, paintings, medals, craft exhibits, and graphics depict animals in action, as seen through the eyes of artists in works ranging from antiquity to the present day. Humorous animal portraits coexist with serious animal depictions, tranquil representations with wild abstractions, finely detailed drawings with powerful sculptures. Visitors are invited to immerse themselves in this diversity of animal images and reflect on their own relationship with animals.

Animals! From Meek as a Lamb to Mad as a Hornet

Vo. 30 of the Writings for the Kunstmuseum Moritzburg Halle (Saale)

Published by Christian Philipsen

English / German

116 pages | numerous fig.
Halle (Saale) : Kulturstiftung Sachsen-Anhalt, 2023
ISBN: 978-3-96502-031-3

15 Euro

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From Meek as a Lamb to Mad as a Hornet

22.10.2023 — 14.01.2024


Ulf Dräger, Susanna Köller, Dr. Barbara Leven, Sophie Mannich, Dr. Jule Schaffer, Stephanie Tiede, Manuela Winter


With the friendly support of

In cooperation with