Rex and the city. Saurians and us (4th century bc – 20th century AD)

Why, even after two centuries of palaeontological discoveries, is it still easy to associate the image of the dinosaur (literally deinos terrible/fearfully great + sauros, saurs) with dragons, chimeras and other saurians of fantasy based on myth?

Although there is no scientifically documented link between dinosaurs and these depictions of monstrous reptiles, a wide range of forms and imaginary images have been invented, almost as numerous and varied as the range of visual cultures themselves. The wealth of these images is such as to cause any scholar of iconology to shy away.

At the end of the eighteenth century, the first fossil finds led scholars to hypothesise the existence of a “prediluvian” world (literally ‘before the Flood’), one not modelled to be at the service of humankind. The interpretation of the fossils stimulated a heated scientific debate, but also amplified the imagination of artists, writers and illustrators over time and space with a vast production that still influences our imagination today.

Nowadays, palaeontologists area able to place those fearful creatures – dinosaurs – that roamed the earth long before the appearance of the genus Homo, in a precise framework of time and space; dragons and chimeras remain outside their area of expertise.

The “Rex and the city” exhibition offers a journey into the fantasy of the human mind, starting with the winged griffin of Orientalising cultures (4th century bce) and ending with the cartoon and film characters that we all know: from Godzilla to the likeable Dino in the popular Flintstones series and the T Rex imagined by Argentinian artist Gabo Bernstein, awkwardly trying to find its place in a busy and modern metropolis.
The exhibition is divided into three sections and highlights objects in the permanent collection of MUDEC, as well as being enriched by international loans, together with books, posters, cartoons and films from leading Italian institutions.


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