The theme of vanity originated in the 17th century and stems from still life, but contains a highly philosophical symbolism on human life, the ephemeral nature of existence and the futility of the pleasures that accompany it. At that time, it presented a moralizing attitude to raise awareness of the rise of individualism and capitalism and its blossoming is closely linked to religion. Its symbols evoked the futility of worldly goods and the transient nature of life, which resonates appreciably with the modern-day world.
The exhibition focuses on the grounds for vanity in the works in the MNBAQ’s collection. It assembles works from different periods and various categories —the decorative arts, graphic design, drawing, printmaking, installations, painting, photography, sculpture and video — all of which make us reflect on the transient nature of our presence in the world. The works evoke the passage of time, unchanging cycles and disappearance.