Head to Foot


Human figures in the Würth Collection


Until the 7th January 2018

Through 130 paintings, drawings, sculptures and installations from the Würth Collection, the exhibition presents a fascinating vision of the representation of the human figure in art. The extensive selection of works, dating from the late 19th century up to the present day, encompasses major pieces from the Würth Collection as well as recent acquisitions.

Words Like a Mountain
Würth Collection – Inv. 15131

Since time immemorial, portrayals of the human figure have always sought not only to represent its physiological reality, but also to ask questions about human nature through formal means. The human figure has been an essential and universal subject in the history of Western art – especially in the form of the portrait and the nude – and confirms the artist’s role as “creator” in the literal sense of the term, whilst allowing artists to investigate their place in the world. From the idealised bodies of Greek statuary to the body as experimental object in contemporary art, these representations have evolved constantly throughout history: following the lethal excesses of the twentieth century and the rise of the consumer society, people have developed a new relationship to the world, translated by a new perception of the body: a contemporary body seen as an adjustable package.

Black Light Self-Portrait

Würth Collection – Inv. 12152
© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / ADAGP, Paris 2017

So what is now possible in terms of digital enhancement and surgical intervention has blurred the boundaries between what is natural and what has been transformed by human hand. More and more people no longer see their bodies as natural or divine gifts that should be accepted, but rather as upgradable units – consumer objects – that can be manipulated at will depending on a person’s bank balance or the talents of a surgeon. The current diktats and social norms relating to appearance are such that Body Mass Index (BMI) seems to have supplanted genuine well-being.


Leaned nude – Nude woman sitting on a bed

Collection Würth – Inv. 14229

The exhibition looks at themes as varied as the ideal body, its impermanence, the fragmented body, the portrait and the self-portrait, the eternal feminine and more, through the works of nearly 100 different artists, from Pablo Picasso to Georg Baselitz, by way of Andy Warhol, A.R. Penck, Marc Quinn, Jaume Plensa, Magdalena Abakanowicz and Gilbert & George.