Sin: The Art of Transgression

By Joost Joustra


An engaging and accessible account of how sin has been depicted in European art for centuries

The depiction of sin has been fundamental to European visual culture for hundreds of years, especially—but not only—in Christian art. Addressing the mutable and often ambiguous representation of sin, this book highlights its theological underpinnings, cultural afterlife, and contradictory and controversial aspects from the 15th to the 21st century. Drawing on paintings from the National Gallery and elsewhere, including pictures by Cranach, Gossaert, and Velázquez, as well as contemporary art and sculpture, the author explores complex theological ideas—Original Sin, the Immaculate Conception, and confession, for example—that show familiar human behavior through moralizing or seductive images; in the process, Sin shows how art can blur the boundaries between our modern categories, religious and secular.

96 pages
paperback, colour illustrations