Death and the Devil. The Fascination with Horror

The exhibition Death and the Devil explores the artistic fascination with the gruesome. The first of its kind, the show illuminates the legacy and continuation of horror’s tropes in fashion, music, film as well as contemporary art. The 120 works on display range from classical painting and sculpture to elaborate installations.


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The presentation begins with a prologue that illustrates how the history of art and culture has been marked by death and macabre images. This spans from the fantastical demons of the Renaissance admonishing sinful behaviour, to the landscapes of Romanticism steeped in ruin and shadows, to the suspenseful figures lurking in early 20th-century horror films. As part of a "cannibalistic" genre that continually re-enacts its own symbols, characters, and themes, these historical examples serve to contextualize contemporary interpretations of the gruesome and terrifying. In the main body of the show, the exhibition brings together works from the last two decades. The diverse adaptations of horror’s tropes attest to its importance in fashion, music, film, and art. Presented are works by artists as diverse as Alexander McQueen, the Chapman Brothers, Billie Eilish, Lars von Trier, Berlinde de Bruyckere, Mary Sibande, and many others. Death metal and the blood-filled sneakers of MSCHF meet contributions from Andres Serrano and Eliza Douglas. With their approaches to generating fear, disgust or discomfort, these works formulate a canonized rule-breaking that transgresses societal barriers, gets under the skin and fires the imagination.

With a total of three stations, the exhibition will be on view in large parts of Germany. The show will start at the Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf (September 2023 - January 2024), continue at the Hessisches Landesmuseum in Darmstadt (February 2024 - May 2024), and end at the Museum Georg Schäfer in Schweinfurt (June 2024 - September 2024).

The exhibition will be accompanied by an extensive catalogue and a comprehensive program of events that will make the fascination of the subject tangible outside the museum.

Curator: Westrey Page, Kunstpalast
Sponsored by: Mey & Edlich


Zombie Boy (Rick Genest), 2011

© Photo: Dmitry Smirnov