Zentrum Paul Klee Bern Founded by Maurice E. and Martha Müller and the heirs of Paul Klee
Exhibition room - © M. Stollenwerk
Exhibition room
© M. Stollenwerk
Image 1/
15.10.2010 – 20.02.2011

Lust and Vice. The 7 Deadly Sins from Dürer to Nauman.

A cooperation with the Museum of Fine Arts Bern.

The Zentrum Paul Klee and the Kunstmuseum Bern will devote a comprehensive exhibition to the seven deadly sins, targeting a fitting documentation of artistic preoccupation with this theme from medieval times to the present. The exhibition will address the relevance of the notion of sin in contemporary society and how our culture justifies changes in values.

Despite the secularization of society and the waning dominion of Christian ethics, the concept of the cardinal sins is, still today, all the rage, as evidenced by David Fincher’s Hollywood film «Seven» (1996) or artworks such as Bruce Nauman’s «Vices and Virtues» (1983-1988/2008).

Pope Gregory I (ca. 540–604) was the first to speak of the «seven deadly sins». He was thereby referring to seven attitudes of the soul, bad characteristics or vices, which lead to the death of the relationship between humankind and God as well as of relationships among humankind: Superbia/pride, Avaritia/avarice, Invidia/envy, Ira/anger, Luxuria/lust, Gula/gluttony, Acedia/sloth.

Society’s attitude to the individual sins listed here has grown ambivalent in recent times: Greed, envy, or gluttony (in the form of consumerism) has become the driving force of the capitalist economic system, while lust in the form of sexual promiscuity has lost its negative connotations in large sections of our thrill-orientated society. At the same time, however, we can observe contrasting tendencies: the greed of managers is denounced as a rip-off mentality, the consumerist behavior in our throwaway society as superficial and meaningless.

Artistic representation of the cardinal sins in their historical development is to be analyzed at both the exhibition sites. However, the exhibition will not be structured like a chronologically marked track but, following an introductory section with series of representations in the Kunstmuseum, the individual sins will be presented in their own respective sections, which will be distributed throughout both buildings. This mode of presentation makes it possible to confront and compare older art with contemporary and reveal the changes in attitudes towards notions of sin.

Team of curators: Fabienne Eggelhöfer (ZPK), Claudine Metzger (KMB), Samuel Vitali (KMB)

CATALOGUE: The catalogue will be published in German with texts by Fabienne Eggelhöfer, Matthias Frehner, Christine Göttler, Claudine Metzger, Monique Meyer, Barbara Müller, Gerhard Schulze, Juri Steiner, Samuel Vitali. Approx. 380 pages, 280 plates, Hatje Cantz Verlag.