From 5 October 2005 to 5 February 2006 the Van Gogh Museum presents the thematic family exhibition Fierce friends: Artists & animals in the Industrial Era, 1750-1900. This multidisciplinary show examines the relationship between man and the animals with displays of over 200 objects. The exhibition will appeal to a broad public but for the first time the presentation will also be geared towards families with children aged between 4 and 12. Rabobank is main sponsor of this exhibition.
During the 18th and 19th centuries the relationship between the human and animal kingdoms changed profoundly as a result of the Industrial Revolution, the discovery of dinosaur bones and fossils, and the spread of Darwin's theory of evolution. With the rise of zoos and natural history museums knowledge about animals and their world grew enormously. Man and the animals were apparently far more closely related than people had previously imagined. The growing interest in their emotions, for example, found expression in societies for the protection of animals. Fierce friends reveals the influence these changes had on the presentation of animals in art, and how art has affected the way we view the animal kingdom.
Beside the fossil that proved that animals could become extinct, the exhibition presents the first painting of an underwater landscape. And as well as a monkey painting, a painting by a monkey. In addition the show features sculptures by animal specialist Antoine Barye, large paintings of domestic and farm animals by Rosa Bonheur and Edwin Landseer, and a crab and a bat by Vincent van Gogh.
The presentation occupies all three floors of the exhibition wing. The ground floor (level -1) shows how people gradually came to understand the essence of the animal world in the 18th and 19th centuries. On the first floor (level 0) the growing role of animals in the world of humans in this period is examined. An underwater world is created in the print room (level +1) with an interactive pool.
Fierce friends was compiled by Andreas Blühm (Wallraf-Richartz-Museum - Fondation Corboud) and Louise Lippincott (Carnegie Museum of Art), makers of the successful multidisciplinary Light! exhibition (20 October 2000 to 11 February 2001). Fierce friends was organised in collaboration with the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh. The exhibition opens in Pittsburgh later in 2006.