“Cheveux chéris” at the Musée du Quai Branly

Paris, 18 September 2012. Art Media Agency (AMA).

The Musée du Quai Branly proposes, from 18 September 2012 to 14 July 2013, an exhibition titled “Cheveux chéris. Frivolités et trophées” (Darling hair. Frivolity and trophies). At the crossing of anthropology, ancient and contemporary art history, fashion and rituals, the exhibition explores the question of individual intimacy and its sociability, developing the universal theme of hair.

In almost every civilization hair have a particular importance. They often have a link with intimacy, seduction, decency and sexuality. Depending on periods and places, hair symbolizes manly strength (Samson’s hair) or feminity; sometimes shown, sometimes hidden. In the past, it was said that stealing someone’s hair allowed to make love potions or to bewitch. Sometimes coloured (with achiote in Amazonia, henna in the Middle East), covered with ashes or clay in many ethnical groups, on occasion of various ceremonies, hair can be also a way of expression.

Developing the idea of hairstyle expressing in some way one’s personality, the Quai Branly exhibition firstly focuses on frivolity, rivality between blond, red and brown hair, smooth and frizzy, through a large range of classical paintings, sculptures and photographs. Comparing the hair fancies of Papua New Guinea, of beautiful African women or “Haute coiffure” artists, the exhibition comes to the idea of hair as a human material, to be modelled and sculpted, a support of know-how and the relativity of beauty, but as well the object of a loss, symbol of time going by, illness and death.

“We started from what we know better, hair as a frivolity, as a social mark of adhesion or protest, arriving finally to hair loss and spiritual hyper-power” explains Hélène Fulgence, exhibition director of the Museum.