Tattoos are everywhere nowadays. The fields of fashion, music, and advertising have wasted no time appropriating the trend that has its roots somewhere in the Pacific thousands of years ago. Celebrities, too, have glommed onto the trend with abandon. Angelina Jolie has tats of the geographical coordinates of her children’s birthplaces, while Marc Jacobs is covered with references to SpongeBob SquarePants and Elizabeth Taylor in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
A new exhibition at Musée du Quai Branly in Paris traces the range of the phenomenon, with an emphasis on its pre-contemporary origins. In collaboration with Tin-Tin, a tattooist and President of the National Union of Tattoo Artists, Anne and Julien (founders of the art magazine Hey! — who don’t use last names) have culled 300 historical and modern works from a variety of regions. The result is an anthropological romp through the art of inking in all its forms, from the body of Otzi (who lived over 3,000 years ago) and concentration camp survivors bearing identifying marks to Japanese irezumi and the modern-day prevalence in the West.
Tattooists, Tattooed, through October 18, 2015, Musée du Quai Branly, Paris