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Art Museum exhibition will explore deadly sins, heavenly virtues through eyes of various artists

January 2, 2013
“The Last Judgment” (1979) by Warrington Colescott

“The Last Judgment” (1979) by Warrington Colescott

The NIU Art Museum will present “Vice + Virtue,” an exhibition that explores the dynamics of the “deadly sins” and “heavenly virtues” with juxtaposed interpretations from a vast array of visual artists.

Curated by NIU Art Museum Assistant Director Peter Olson, “Vice + Virtue” will occupy all four galleries of the NIU Art Museum from Tuesday, Jan. 8, through Saturday, Feb. 23, with a public reception planned from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24.

This exhibition examines the concepts of virtue and vice as they have been depicted throughout the evolution of visual culture.

Showcasing artwork from more than 45 artists, “Vice + Virtue” will present an eclectic mix spanning highly detailed engravings from old-master printmakers to lusciously vivid compositions by contemporary painters.

A selection of folk art will also be included, along with an assortment of pop culture memorabilia.

From the gravely earnest to the playfully witty, “Vice + Virtue” delivers a thought-provoking overview of innocence and sin, including ambiguous areas of overlap or intersection.

For example, light-hearted interpretations of vice can be found in both the work of contemporary artist Phyllis Bramson and 18th century printmaker William Hogarth.

In her painting “Paramours and Mischief (In the Afternoon),” Bramson lures viewers into a whimsical fantasyland of decadence and lust with her candy-colored palette and acrobatic cast of characters – hardly a dour look at the perils of “sin.”

“Virgin and Child with a Multitude of Animals” (c. 1597) by Aegidius Sadeler II (after Albrecht Dürer)

“Virgin and Child with a Multitude of Animals” (c. 1597) by Aegidius Sadeler II (after Albrecht Dürer)

This impish take on vice can also be found centuries earlier in Hogarth’s engraving “The Sleeping Congregation.”

Hogarth’s church scene depicts parishioners reluctantly going through the motions of worship as they snore their way through the sermon of a disapproving minister. The resulting scene is wickedly satirical – an expertly drafted punch line delivered by one of England’s greatest old masters.

A complete list of exhibiting artists includes John Balsley, David Becker, George Bellows, Stan Brakhage, Phyllis Bramson, Nick Bubash, Jacques Callot, Marc Chagall, Sue Coe, Joe Coleman, Warrington Colescott, April Dauscha, Paul Delvaux, Otto Dix, David Driesbach, Fritz Eichenberg, Beulah Round Elving, James Ensor, Howard Finster, Nicole Gordon, Hendrik Goudt, William Hogarth, Eric Holubow, Tom Huck, John Jansson and Indira Johnson.

Others are George Klauba, Diane Levesque, Barbara Madsen, Jacob Matham (after Albrecht Dürer), Stephen Metz, R.A. Miller, Michael Noland, Earnest Patton, Elijah Pierce, Prophet Blackmon, Herb Ritts, Aegidius Sadeler II (after Albrecht Dürer), Fred Stonehouse, Bruno Surdo, Terri Thomas, Andy Warhol, Hieronymous Wierix (after Albrecht Dürer) and Barry Wilson.

“Vice + Virtue” posterProgramming for “Vice + Virtue” will be occurring throughout the course of the exhibition.

Located on the west-end first floor of Altgeld Hall, the galleries are open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and by appointment for group tours.

Exhibitions and lectures are free; donations are appreciated.

Pay parking is available in the visitor’s lot on Carroll Avenue and at metered spots in front of Altgeld Hall. Free parking is available Saturdays and during receptions and visiting artist lectures in the lot northeast of Gilbert and College Drives.

The exhibition is sponsored in part by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; the Friends of the NIU Art Museum; and the Dean’s Circle of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, NIU Foundation.

Call (815) 753-1936 for more information.