Conceptualized and designed by Singh with art historian Natalie Musteata, A Gothic Tale begins with a selection of works from the Fine Arts Museums’ encyclopedic collection that embody one of the key tropes of the Gothic tradition: the doppelgänger. In this eerie presage to the film, works that appear to be duplicates, such as prints of Roman tombs by Giovanni Battista Piranesi and biblical scenes by Albrecht Dürer, will be exhibited in a striking scenography of mirrored walls, in which the works of art, and viewers alike, are endlessly reflected. Together, these works resonate with the founding and history of the Legion of Honor, itself not only a copy of the Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in Paris but also a funerary structure, located atop a former cemetery, and built to commemorate the fallen soldiers of the First World War.
“A Gothic Tale’s installation of works from the collection pays tribute to the legacy of the Legion of Honor’s groundbreaking curator Jermayne MacAgy,” states Claudia Schmuckli, Curator in Charge of Contemporary Art and Programming at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “In the 1940s, MacAgy revolutionized the practice of exhibition making through her innovative installation designs, that emphasized transcultural and transhistorical narratives.”
The film’s captivating score, written by the Dutch composer Gerry Arling, will be performed at scheduled intervals on the Legion of Honor’s historic Spreckels organ, filling the museum’s halls with the film’s haunting melody.
A Gothic Tale is on view at the Legion of Honor from September 7, 2019, through April 12, 2020. The exhibition is organized by Claudia Schmuckli, Curator in Charge of Contemporary Art and Programming at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. It will coincide with the exhibition James Tissot (October 12, 2019 through February 9, 2020), which explores, in part, the 19th-century obsession with mysticism and connecting with the departed through séances.