Winged Beings between Heaven and Earth

22 November 2013 – 5 January 2014


“Driver had a guardian angel!” How often do we read this in newspaper headlines, or at least hear about it? Recently a Japanese car company even launched an advertising campaign using the slogan “guardian angel fitted as standard”.

Although we today live in a rational and increasingly secularized world, many of us still believe, or at least hope, that guardian angels are watching over us. This does not mean that parents still decorate their children’s room with oil prints depicting guardian angels in action, for example, preventing flower-picking children from falling off a cliff face or guiding a young girl safely across a narrow, unstable bridge, as used to be the case in the past. However, such illustrations are now being shown in the exhibition Angels – Winged Beings between Heaven and Earth at the Museum der Kulturen Basel. The colourful lithographs, canvas images and reverse glass paintings featuring guardian angels bear impressive witness to the widespread belief in the potency of these winged beings.

In Christian iconography and the tradition of religious folk art that grew from it, we encounter angels in many forms and functions. Adam and Eve were led from the Garden of Eden by an angel; it was an angel who announced to the Virgin Mary that should would conceive and become the mother of Jesus, and an angel also appeared to the shepherds in the field to tell them of the birth of Christ. We also have angels accompanying people on their various stages through life. What other forms of angel images are common, especially in the tradition of religious prints, you can now discover at the Museum der Kulturen Basel.