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From the autumn of 2024, Kunsthal Rotterdam will present the exhibition DIVA. The exhibition celebrates the unparalleled power and limitless creativity of iconic artists who have challenged the status quo with their bravado and ambition. DIVA explores and redefines the once controversial term diva – which originally meant goddess – and how it has been embraced in performance culture. Using more than sixty looks and costume designs from world-famous designers and worn by Maria Callas, Tina Turner, Shirley Bassey, Cher, Elton John, Rihanna and Billie Eilish, the exhibition shows how these divas pushed boundaries with their performing arts and made a lasting impact in society.

DIVA takes you into the world of opera goddesses from the 19th century to the contemporary pop and rock 'n roll culture of global superstars. The first part of the exhibition focuses on the historical context of the diva. Costumes from early opera stars such as Adelina Patty and Jenny Lind can be admired and Maria Callas' impressive stage ensemble from the opera production Norma (1952) can also be seen. Personal objects, handwritten texts, and iconic costumes show how actresses Ellen Terry, Sarah Bernhardt, and Marie Lloyd drove the first wave of feminism and how divas such as Josephine Baker, Mae West, Vivien Leigh, and Marilyn Monroe shaped popular culture.

The second part of the exhibition celebrates today's slide and shows how contemporary artists are reinventing the concept of diva in an originally male-dominated film and music world. Highlights include costumes designed by Bob Mackie for stars such as Tina Turner and Pink; Elton John's 50th birthday look designed by Sandy Powell, Shirley Bassey's pink Julien MacDonald dress (including diamond-encrusted wellies) worn at Glastonbury in 2007, Whitney Houston's black and gold dress in which she won three Grammys for the soundtrack of The received Bodyguard, the lilac deconstructed suit designed by Versace, worn by Lil Nas

All dates

26 Oct - 2 Mar
Kunsthal Rotterdam

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