What function do masks have? Are they simply decorative objects or could they ever become a symbol of identity? The Carmen Thyssen Museum in Malaga takes a look at the evolution of the mask through its presence in art.
This exhibition reflects on the mask as a means of transforming how the human figure is represented in modern art. Originally masks had a traditional festive use associated with Carnival and fancy dress, which continued to be predominant in Commedia dell’arte characters. Masks were associated with the grotesque and death. In the early 20th century, the influence of ethnographic masks emerged with simplified features, depersonalising the human face on masks in movements such as Dadaism, Cubism, Expressionism and Surrealism. This all resulted in an object that in modern art often questioned the identity, individuality and subjectivity of the characters and became associated with the mask wearer’s real expression.