Arch of Hysteria. Between Madness and Ecstasy

July 21, 2023–January 14,2024
Museum der Moderne, Salzburg 



The Museum der Moderne devotes a grand thematic exhibition to the motif of the arched body. Titled Arch of Hysteria. Between Madness and Ecstasy, it features works by Auguste Rodin, Gustav Klimt, Alfred Kubin, Max Ernst, VALIE EXPORT, and Georg Herold.


S-0022, Akt am Meer
Rudolf Koppitz, Akt am Meer, 1923
S-0135, "Valerie Bettis – Desperate Heart"
Barbara Morgan, "Valerie Bettis – Desperate Heart", 1944
S-0199, "Verzweiflung"
Rudolf Koppitz, "Verzweiflung", 1927
S-0284, "Palucca"
Charlotte Rudolph, "Palucca", 1920s
S-0453, "Narre Tod mein Spielgesell"
Franz Fiedler, "Narre Tod mein Spielgesell", 1921
S-0600, Sarah Jankelow
Franz Fiedler, Sarah Jankelow, 1926-1927
S-1272, untitled
Nobuyoshi Araki, untitled, 1997
S-2547, "Renate Schottelius, New York"
Ellen Auerbach, "Renate Schottelius, New York", 1954


A profoundly ambivalent figure between loss of self-control and utter self-possession, the so-called “arc de cercle,” the “grand” or “hysterical arch,” is an alluring motif with a long tradition in the history of art and culture. It appears both in depictions of dancers and acrobats and in illustrations of physical or psychological illness: the hyperextended (female) body can convey ecstatic rapture or a psychotic disorder as well as a virtuoso’s body control and expressiveness.

Arch of Hysteria is the first exhibition to focus entirely on this potent and prolific motif. Works of art from the past century drawn from a wide variety of contexts demonstrate the versatility of pose’s expressive potential—including its transmutation into abstract yet no less evocative and distinctive forms. The presentation sheds light on the motif’s (art-)historical roots as well as its more recent adaptations in painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, and video and performance art; several artists are creating works especially for the exhibition.

With works by: Ellen Auerbach, Charles Bell, Joseph Beuys, Alexandra Bircken, Günter Brus, EglÄ— BudvytytÄ—, Nola Bunke,Alfred Czerny, Salvador Dalí, Denis Darzacq, Paul Gustave Doré, Max Ernst, VALIE EXPORT, Franz Fiedler, Agnès Geoffray, Gelatin, Georg Herold, Richard Hoeck, Athanasius Kircher, Erika Giovanna Klien, Gustav Klimt, Joachim Koester, Käthe Kollwitz, Rudolf Koppitz, Alfred Kubin, Erwin Lang, Ulrike Lienbacher, Madame d’Ora, Leslie De Melo, Manufaktur Friedrich Goldscheider, Meta Mettig-Ellenberger, Adi Nes, Tilman Peschel, Ronit Porat, Lotte Reiniger, Karl Reisenbichler, Albert Renger-Patzsch, Paul Richer, Auguste Rodin, Mileva Roller, Barbis Ruder, Charlotte Rudolph, Volker Saul, Valerie Schmidt, Wiebke Siem, Helene von Taussig, Markus Vallazza, Rainer Wölzl


Curators: Lena Nievers, Kerstin Stremmel

Museum der Moderne
Mönchsberg 32 
5020 Salzburg, Austria




Arch of Hysteria. Between Madness and Ecstasy, Museum der Moderne Salzburg 2023, exhibition view, © Museum der Moderne Salzburg, photograph: Rainer Iglar