Doubles and Doppelgängers
Saturday, May 6 through Saturday, June 17
The German term "doppelgänger" translates literally as "double walker" or "double goer" but refers generally to the idea of an alter-image. The doppelgänger is, in fact, so commonplace in our culture that we may fail to recognize it as such. Take, for example, the dual masks of Comedy and Tragedy which we so often see associated with the theater: an obvious doppelganger. And the antiquity of the concept is attested by our biblical progenitors, Cain and Abel, who exegetes commonly interpret as two aspects of a single human personality. Perhaps the most common doppelgänger is the shadow or mirror image, and it is often associated with the uncanny or the gothic in art. In 1914, Austrian psychologist and cultural anthropologist Otto Rank wrote a book-length study of the doppelgänger, a work which influenced his associate Sigmund Freud and Freud's successor Carl Jung and which underlay development of the idea of the Alter Ego.
Although the term "doppelgänger" may not ring familiar, almost everyone is familiar with some of the many manifestations of this theme in literature, cinema, and visual art. In literature, the theme has been explored in such popular works as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Edgar Allen Poe's William Wilson. In the visual arts, we might cite Caravaggio's Narcissus, Titian's Sacred and Profane Love or, more recently, the surreal double images of Renee Magritte or the doppelgänger portraits of Expressionist artist Egon Schiele. And it is worth noting that a cinematic treatment of the doppelgänger was recently voted "best film ever" by the British Film Institute: Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo.
Although the term doppelgänger usually refers to a human image, the idea of "the double" can easily be expanded to include abstract forms or images in three as well as two dimensions. Henry Moore's Double Oval is a modern sculptural treatment of this theme, and Michael Heiser's Double Negative – two mirrored swaths cut from the Nevada desert – may qualify as its largest treatment.
A reception for the artists to be held on Saturday, May 20 from 5:30 to 8:00 PM.
It is open to the public.