Figure and Fable: Aesop through the Ages


Figure and Fable: Aesop through the Ages

Curated By
Curated by Emma Dove, she/her, 2022–2023 Barringer-Lindner Curatorial Fellow

Look before you leap.

Slow and steady wins the race.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

Aesop’s Fables have long been used to teach moral lessons, like the ones above, to people of all ages. Aesop (ca. 620–564 BCE) may be a work of fiction himself, but various ancient authors describe him as a once-enslaved storyteller of incredible wit and attribute to him short stories with moral lessons and animal characters.

In many early versions of the fables, artwork depicting Aesop and text detailing the story of his life were included prominently alongside his tales. Though Aesop’s name remains associated with a large group of fables, some recent versions have excluded Aesop from the narrative, repackaging the fables as standalone educational material for children.

Bringing together versions of Aesop’s Fables published between 1501 and 1988 in Switzerland, England, Scotland, France, and the United States, this exhibition explores how artists and authors have reinterpreted Aesop and his fables for their changing audiences over time.