The Norton Simon Museum presents The Expressive Body: Memory, Devotion, Desire (1400–1750), an exhibition that examines the ways in which the human form has provoked powerful responses, from the physiological to the mystical. In the early modern period — that is, the centuries following the Middle Ages — works of art were thought to have such power that they affected the viewer physically. From erotic paintings produced for wealthy patrons to venerated statues of the wounded Christ installed in local chapels, representations of the body stimulated visceral and often self-reflexive reactions of desire, compassion, or aversion.

The Expressive Body: Memory, Devotion, Desire (1400–1750) displays over 60 paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures from the Norton Simon’s collections, many of which have never been on view. At the time of their production, these depictions of the human figure stirred something essential in viewers. This exhibition reveals the historical potency of the represented body to move the mind through the flesh, and it invites us to examine our own responses to these works today.

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The Expressive Body: Memory, Devotion, Desire (1400–1750) is on view through March 7, 2022.