10 November 2018 — 10 March 2019

Jean Cocteau – Metamorphosis

Jean Cocteau (1889-1963) is an artist who particularly appeals to the imagination. He expressed himself in almost every artistic medium: from poetry and literature to the visual arts and design, from theatre to his favourite medium of all: film. But even more than for his wide-ranging work, Cocteau attracted attention for his remarkable life. He surrounded himself with celebrities such as Sergei Diaghilev, Edith Piaf, Pablo Picasso and Coco Chanel and regularly caused a sensation owing to his homosexuality and drug use. Design Museum Den Bosch presents the first large-scale retrospective exhibition of Jean Cocteau’s work in the Netherlands.

Oeuvre and significance

Cocteau’s oeuvre was a precursor to the multidisciplinary practice of artists and designers today. In our era, Dutch designers such as Bart Hess, Ted Noten and Studio Drift are equally unconstrained by any one discipline, freely pushing at the boundaries of art, design and digital media. Jean Cocteau – Metamorphosiswill also throw light on Cocteau’s ongoing metamorphoses and his relentless search for his own identity. In contemporary society, with the debate on emancipation once again raging and personal creation of one’s image and identity subject to huge influences, Cocteau’s life and work are more relevant than ever. In the same way that young people currently shape their identities online, Cocteau had a real talent for revealing ever different aspects of himself through different media. The exhibition Jean Cocteau: Metamorphosiswill show many of these faces: in drawings and paintings, tapestries and posters, photographs and film. A plethora of artistic forms of expression, which taken together Cocteau himself regarded as a self-portrait.

Major works coming to the Netherlands

Design Museum Den Bosch has held ceramics and jewellery by Cocteau in its collection since the 1990s. Now for the first time ever, these pieces can be presented in the context of his complete life and work.The retrospective Jean Cocteau – Metamorphosis is made up of more than 250 works. Many pieces have been loaned by the Musée Jean Cocteau collection Séverin Wunderman in Menton, France – the only museum in the world dedicated to Cocteau – as well as by the Kontaxopoulos | Prokopchuk collection in Brussels, the largest international private collection of Cocteau’s work. In addition, loans have kindly been provided by Cartier Collection, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and the Koninklijke Verzamelingen (Dutch Royal Collection), among others. Major works on loan include the tapestry Judith et Holofernefrom Menton, the artists’ book Le Mystère de Jean l’Oiseleurfrom Brussels, the sword Epée d’Académicienfrom Cartier Collection and the manuscript poem Hommage à Igor Strawinskyfrom the Koninklijke Verzamelingen, gifted by French President Mitterrand to Prince Claus of the Netherlands during a state visit to Paris.