In search of Utopia

In search of Utopia

20.10.2016 - 17.01.2017

500 years Utopia

No fewer than 80 masterpieces are waiting for you at M - Museum Leuven’s unique and extraordinary exhibition In Search of Utopia. It is inspired by Thomas More, the humanist, statesman and author of the book Utopia, an iconic work that was first published in Leuven exactly 500 years ago by the printer Dirk Martens.

 

The desire and search for Utopia resulted in a wave of creative highpoints in painting, tapestry weaving, mapmaking and the development of scientific instruments. All the great masters of Thomas More’s day will be represented by masterpieces from their oeuvres. In Search of Utopia is a unique opportunity to see the best of Quinten Metsys, Jan Gossaert, Albrecht Dürer, Hans Holbein and many others in one exhibition. There will even be a showpiece from the collection of Queen Elisabeth II! 

 

Curator: Prof. Dr. Jan Van der Stock, Illuminare - Study Centre for Medieval Art (KU Leuven)

Between hell and heaven in four themes

The exhibition is structured around four themes that each approach Utopia from a different point of view. 

Chapter 1: Utopia by Thomas More

Chapter 1: Utopia by Thomas More

The first part is entirely devoted to Thomas More’s ‘golden book’ Utopia. More wrote the work out of frustration for the corruption and misrule in English government and society. His response was Utopia: an imaginary island where happiness and justice reigned supreme. In this part you’ll also be introduced to More’s family and some of his closest friends, such as Desiderius Erasmus and Pieter Gilis. 

Chapter 2: Dream worlds

Chapter 2: Dream worlds

Utopia is not only the story of dreams and ideals. Failure and disappointment are also characteristics of the search for a new society. The dream remains intact or it becomes a nightmare. This duality determines the character of the second aspect of the exhibition: success or failure.

Chapter 3: Beyond the horizon

Chapter 3: Beyond the horizon

Utopia marks the beginning of a period of intense innovation and voyages of discovery to new worlds beyond the horizon. Artists were fuelled by curiosity and their creativity was invigorated like never before. In this part of the exhibition In Search of Utopia, you will follow in their footsteps and discover the unbridled power of their imaginations. 

Chapter 4: The universe in your hand

Chapter 4: The universe in your hand

In the fourth and last section you will experience a sublime final chord. The desire for the ideal world was given new dimensions in art. People wanted to understand the universe and eternity better, not merely to believe. The exhibition will introduce you to original scientific measuring instruments made in Leuven in the 16th century. At that period, Leuven was a leading city for the production of armillary spheres and astrolabes. n.

Publications

The exhibition catalog provides more detailed explanation of the works of art, artists and the era of Utopia.

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OKV (Public Kunstbezit Flanders) published a special Utopia theme song from. Available in Dutch, French and English.
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