exhibition design for
Kunstmuseum Kloster Unser Lieben Frauen


An exhibition for the
100th German Katholikentag 2016
in Leipzig, Germany

In the context of Christian, Western art, the history of the depiction of man is, for many centuries, the history of religious images. Images of Christ, the Virgin Mary, saints and donors, their existence is embedded in Christian doctrines and religious practices. »Thou shall not make for yourself an image«, according to Moses (Ex 20, 1—6); thus preaches the Cistercian Bernard of Clairvaux later and thus it gets repeated by the reformers. Other than with Judaism, Zoroastrianism and Islam, which have neither depictions of people nor animals in their mosques and synagogues, the image of man has remained closely connected to Christianity for a long time and the depiction of man has been the centre of attention for many centuries.

Even today, the image of man is of central importance to many artists. »Here he is: the Man«: weak like Pilate, anxious like Peter, faithless like Judas, at someone’s mercy like Christ; but look, man can also be different: kind, loving and always hopeful. The image of this complex man of our time, who is always different, never the same, who has many facets, who is sometimes vulnerable and sometimes violent, who might marvel at or be conscious of the good he is doing: That is the image of man that today’s artists are showing. How do we look at our own image, that we might not like to be confronted with, and at those images that we come across again and again, that are engrained in our lives from birth until death? These images are emotional and moving, they accuse and they reconcile. These images ask the same question over and over again: What is it that makes us human? Are people preserved by the data network even after their death? This could, for instance, beone of the most topical questions with regards to our idea of man. Have digital networks not only created new realities, but also profoundly changed our idea of man? In terms of art, images of Christ and man are nowadays far removed from any kind of religious determination or purpose. They much rather bear testimony to an intense engagement with a new idea of man as it has been disseminated ever since the Reformation. The complex meaning of this idea of man enables us to understand that as free individuals we are fully responsible for our actions and that justice and freedom are amongst mankind’s most important core values.

The second part of the exhibition will be on show from 21.05.—05.11.2017 at the Art Museum Kloster Unser Lieben Frauen Magdeburg to mark the occasion of the Reformation anniversary in 2017.

(text by Dr. Annegret Laabs)



English and German version


Built with Berta