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Exhibition Series The Second Glance Kicks Off in the Bode-Museum on September 5 2019 with the Opening of All Forms of Love


The Second Glance is a new exhibition series presented by the Skulpturensammlung and the Museum für Byzantinische Kunst – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. It provides a multi-perspectival engagement with the permanent collection of the Bode-Museum through the lens of topical and socially relevant themes. All Forms of Love, the first exhibition in the series, realized in collaboration with the Schwules Museum, offers a second look at works that, in a variety of ways, provide access to the theme of the diversity of sexual identities. At 6 p.m. on 5 September 2019, the Bode-Museum invites audiences to attend the opening of the new LGBTIQ* narration with the ballroom collective Iconic House of Saint Laurent.

With its important sculpture collection, the Bode-Museum is first and foremost a museum of human beings – no other art form offers such a distinctive depiction of their physical form, bodily presence and sometimes even their individual appearance. The objects in the collections cover over 1,500 years of Europe’s artistic and cultural history, making them particularly well-suited for exhibition formats that deal with human identities and their artistic embodiment.

The First Instalment, All Forms of Love, Takes a Look at the Diversity of Sexual Identities

The first instalment in the series, All Forms of Love, developed in cooperation with the Schwules Museum, focuses on works in the collection that deal thematically with the diversity of sexual identities, and with their perception, valorisation and their artistic exploration. The five thematic paths that wind through the entire collection and highlight 23 objects offer insights into the artistic and societal engagement with LGBTIQ* sexualities and identities that have always been present in art, but have often been overlooked or ignored.

Five Thematic Paths Through the Collection

Following thematic paths through the collections, visitors are encouraged to rediscover the artistic treasures of the Skulpturensammlung and the Museum für Byzantinische Kunst, allowing them to gain a new perspective on these iconic objects.

Path 1 – In Love and War

The first path: Mars, god of war, was considered the epitome of masculinity in antiquity. However, the fact that he was married to Venus, the most beautiful of all goddesses, did not stop Mars from having several affairs with mortal men. In depictions of Christian soldiers as well – such as in the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste – we can find scenes of physical intimacy and affection.

Path 2 – Male Artists and Homosexuality

The second path deals with works of art made by homosexual men or by artists connected with homosexual milieus, or who worked with homoerotic subject matter. This route thus involves a stop at a sculpture in bronze by the Italian Renaissance master Donatello (ca. 1386–1466), who for the first time in the history of art depicted the Old Testament hero David as an attractive, androgynous youth.

Path 3 – The Art of Antiquity and Enlightened Collecting

Homosexual male collectors are the focus of the third path, including Frederick the Great, King of Prussia (1712–1786), who engaged in intimate relationships with men in his royal household. A marble copy of Johann Gottfried Schadow’s monumental sculpture depicts Frederick in the small cupola of the Bode-Museum.

Path 4 - Heroines of Virtue

The fourth path concentrates on the representation of feminine intimacy and erotic love between women – often explored through the mythological imagery of nymphs. These nymphs were often depicted naked while bathing or sleeping, or exchanging gestures of erotic affection, as seen in the relief The Fall of Phaeton by Simone Mosca (ca. 1523–1578). However, references to female homosexuality in the Middle Ages are exceedingly rare. For many women, the strict rejection of a heterosexual relationship led to their martyrdom, as a result of which they were canonised.

Path 5 – Crossing Borders

The fifth path deals with the question of to what extent we can ascribe a stable gender to a person – such as in the example of the double nature of the Greek goddess of love Aphrodite Urania, who provided inspiration for Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (1825–1895), a pioneer of gay rights. Saint Wilgefortis, who wanted to remain a virgin and lead a Christian life, asked God for help to avoid a forced marriage. God made a beard grow on her face, and as a result, not only did her fiancé break off their engagement, Wilgefortis was also sentenced to death by crucifixion – a martyrdom that was generally reserved for men.

Loan from the Schwules Museum

As a cooperation partner, the Schwules Museum is complementing the project with the loan of two dance tokens from the 1930s Berlin dance and drag club “Eldorado”. With these coins, which were specially minted for the club, guests could pay for a dance with the drag queens in between performances.

An Exhibition in the Museum and on the Net

The project All Forms of Love can be explored both in the museum and through the online catalogue. Exhibition dates, the free catalogue and other information can be found at:

Opening Event on 5 September 2019

To mark the opening of the exhibition series, the collective Iconic House of Saint Laurent – pioneers of the ballroom and voguing scene in Germany – will perform their show HE R E on 5 September 2019 at 6 p.m. Entry is free, however donations are requested, with proceeds going to GLADT e.V., a self-organized group for Black and PoC lesbian, gay, bi, trans*, intersex* and queer people in Berlin.

Talk Series

The different themes of the series will be explored more deeply through a series of talks running from September 2019 to March 2020. The series will kick off with a talk on “Jesus and his Favourite Disciple: The Christ-John the Bapist Group Through the Ages”, by Prof Andreas Kraß from the Institute for German Literature at Humboldt Universität on 19 September 2019

The talk series is sponsored by the Hannchen-Mehrzweck-Stiftung, the Instituto Cervantes Berlin, and the Spanish Embassy in Germany. The Second Glance is supported by Museum&Location.