Art exhibit examines 'Vice + Virtue'

DeKALB – The Northern Illinois University Art Museum presents “Vice + Virtue,” an exhibition curated by NIU Art Museum Assistant Director Peter Olson exploring the dynamics of the “deadly sins” and “heavenly virtues” with juxtaposed interpretations from an array of visual artists.

This exhibition will be held in all four galleries of the NIU Art Museum from Jan. 8 to Feb. 23, with a public reception from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on 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. This impish take on vice can also be found centuries earlier in William 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.

Exhibiting artists are: Anonymous, 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, Indira Johnson, 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’

Northern Illinois University Art Museum, inside Altgeld Hall in DeKalb

An exhibition exploring the dynamics of the deadly sins and heavenly virtues. On display from Jan. 8-Feb. 23. Public reception 4:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24, at the museum.

The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. For  more information, visit

This exhibition is recommended for mature audiences only.

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