La Beauté – The History of Cosmetics
14. Mai 2011 – 04. September 2011
0.00 – 23.59 Uhr
Ideals of beauty and the means to achieve them have changed from age to age. Cosmetics have always been used to maintain and beautify the human face. Throughout the ages, beneficial substances, layers of highlight and select perfumes have served to groom our appearance and surround us with an aura of irresistibility. Yet cosmetics were a luxury that for centuries only the upper classes could afford. This is evident in the noble containers and finely worked utensils of precious materials from the various historical periods.
Portraits provide us with a running report on how ideals of beauty and fashion have changed over the centuries, but also on popular make-up techniques through the years. And these were more often than not anything but good for the health. For example, from as early as antiquity the noble pallor of a white face was achieved by means of toxic white lead. Cosmetic guides only began recommending healthier recipes from the Age of Enlightenment on. For the „home-made“ cosmetics of the hairdressers and perfumers, powder vendors and fancy goods traders, the expensive raw materials were available from the pharmacy. With industrialisation in the 19th and 20th centuries, care and beauty products became affordable for wider sectors of society. But what remains to this day is the sense of luxury created by the exquisite decoration of powder boxes, perfume flasks, pots of cream and, last but not least, lipstick tubes.
This exhibition takes a tour through the history of seductive cosmetics from antiquity to the present day. In cooperation with Babor Cosmetics, an internationally operating Aachen family business, a selection of objects and paintings relating to the culture of cosmetics will be on show. Visitors will also get an insight in the fast-moving yet highly characteristic trends of fashionable beauty and cosmetics from the 1950s to the present day.