Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

An ancient legend mentioned by Pliny the Elder (d. 79 AD) places the origin of painting in Corinth, where a young girl, the daughter of the sculptor Butades of Sicyon, is said to have drawn the outline of her beloved’s shadow on a wall by the light of a candle.

This is the first large exhibition dedicated to the representation of shadows in Western art. Although shadows are primarily used to enhance the principal subject depicted, various mediums used and various periods in art history offer unique interpretations, as this selection of more 140 works attests. Paintings, photography and cinema projections highlight the host of implications, problems and solutions inherent in the representation of the shadow in art, from the Renaissance to the present day. Emile Friant’s Cast Shadows (1891) illustrates its use in the romantic and post-romantic eras for highlighting the mood of a period, while Andy Warhol’s series Shadows (1978) offers a more sinister perspective.


February 10 through May 17, 2009
Paseo del Prado 8
28014 Madrid
T. +34 91 369 01 51