“Revered and Feared” explores feminine power in art and belief


Silver Medal of Queen Anne, U.K. (1707). © The Trustees of the British Museum (2023).

A groundbreaking exhibition has opened its doors in Madrid, taking visitors on a captivating journey through the multifaceted expressions of feminine power across cultures and epochs. “Revered and Feared. Feminine Power in Art and Belief,” a collaboration between Madrid’s La Caixa Foundation and London’s British Museum, Artnet News reports, features 166 objects spanning over 5,000 years, sparking dialogue about gender roles, ancient traditions, and contemporary feminist movements.

Curated by Belinda Crerar and Risa Martínez, the exhibition unfolds through five thematic lenses: “Creation and Nature,” “Passion and Desire,” “Magic and Malice,” “Justice and Defence,” and “Compassion and Salvation.” From prehistoric artifacts to contemporary pieces by Marina Abramović and Zanele Muholi, the diverse collection challenges our preconceived notions of gender, celebrates female agency, and sheds light on the evolution of spiritual perceptions of femininity around the globe.

“This is the first exhibition of its kind,” proclaims Crerar, emphasising the exhibition’s groundbreaking nature. “It’s particularly relevant today, given recent gender equality movements, to reflect on our own cultural biases and empower women through art.”

Among the exhibition’s highlights are: a majestic bust of Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom and war, and a serene Buddhist figure of Bodhisattva Guanyin, embodying compassion and mercy. Then there is a captivating Taraka dance mask from West Bengal, pulsating with fierce energy as well as a graceful statuette of Oshun, the Yoruba river deity of love and beauty.

The exhibition is on view at Caixa Forum, Madrid, until January 14, 2024.

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