Het hoofd van Holofernes, Boston

Jan Cox


Print, 590 x 786 mm.
Materials: etching on paper

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp / Donated by Adriaan Raemdonck, 2014 (Inv. no. S0491_27).

"Jan Cox told stories because he considered life to be a linked chain of stories. He therefore frequently presented the content of his paintings in the shape of the ancient images and ancient narratives that the classic myths, but also the Bible, offered him as the foundations of Western culture. He painted various works and also real series based on ancient narratives of for example Orpheus, the Iliad and Judith and Holofernes. This had nothing to do with literature, but everything to do with life: the works were not illustrations for those stories, the stories enabled the artist to penetrate and visualise life. ‘Myths are the instruments by which we continually struggle to make our experience intelligible to ourselves. A myth is a large controlling image, that gives philosophical meaning to the facts of ordinary life: that is, which has organizing value for experience’, he taught his students. In the traditional and therefor  generally known narratives Cox not only found what was in human nature in a kind of intensified and timeless form. They also enabled him to take topical and generally personally experienced, sometimes even anecdotal, events to a more universal and universally understandable plane. In the context of this crisis of civilisation and his personal problems, it should therefore not be surprising that stories on the tragic failure of mankind and his culture appealed most to him[1]."


[1] Marijke Van Eeckhaut in: Jan Cox. Living One’s Art, Stichting Kunstboek, Group Van Damme, Oostkamp, 2008, p. 221

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