The opening exhibition at the Magnum gallery space in Clerkenwell is dedicated to the works by Herbert List, the German fashion photographer who imbued Surrealism into his highly classical practice. The show, titled Metamorphoses, is List’s first UK show in more than five years. List was born in Hamburg in 1903, he left Germany in 1936 to seek refuge from the rise of Nazism. Living between Paris and Athens from 1937, he settled in the Greek capital following the outbreak of World War II. He travelled extensively to the Peloponnese and the islands, seeking a highly personalised yet antiquity-inspired modernist depiction of Greece. Atmospheric light, radical crops and expressive perspectives shaped List’s vision of Greek architecture, artworks and men. His vision of Greece consists of subjective imagery rich in subtext and sensuality. It allows the viewer to feel, taste, and bathe in the atmosphere of List’s personal encounter with the Mediterranean.
Herbert List exhibition, looks at the idea of transformation through Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The exhibition will coincide with London Gallery Weekend and run in June and July at 63 Gee Street, and online. Metamorphoses explores themes of mythology, the male body, and Greek sculpture. It features both very rare vintage and modern works. Borrowing its title from Ovid’s epic poem, Metamorphoses focuses on transformation. It seeks to explore the complex relationship between List’s prolific depiction of sculptures, his sensual images of men, and the blurred line between them.
Metamorphoses, is List’s first UK show in more than five years.
The images “reflect List’s quest for freedom at a time when the world was going through intensely violent political turmoil,” says Nicolas Smirnoff, Magnum Gallery’s director. In his work he used details of Greek sculptures as a way to explore the bodies of men. The image above, Young man with laurel over the eyes, 1936 is an image that almost symbolically reenacts Daphne’s transformation into a laurel tree.
The works on view were previously exhibited at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts (SCVA) in 2019 as part of the exhibition The Body Observed.
HERBERT LIST Metamorphoses Magnum Gallery 63 Gee Street, EC1V 3RS, London, UK 4 – 30 June 2021 and by appointment-only from 1to 31 July 2021 From Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm Private View Day: Thursday 3 June, 12 – 5pm, by appointment London Gallery Weekend: 4 – 6 June 2021