The Cantor gives the devil his due

Jerome Witkin's The Devil as a Tailor
The Devil as a Tailor, by Jerome Witkin, is part of the Cantor Center’s exhibition “Sympathy for the Devil.”

Jackson Pollock’s important painting Lucifer is coming to the university as part of the Anderson Collection at Stanford University. In preparation, the Cantor Arts Center has opened “Sympathy for the Devil: Satan, Sin and the Underworld.”

The 40-work exhibition, which opened Wednesday, explores the visual history of the devil and his realm. Based upon the collections at Stanford and augmented by several loans, the exhibition traces the dominant Western tradition over approximately four centuries. A variety of prints, drawings, sculptures and paintings – including works by Albrecht Dürer, Hendrick Goltzius, Jacques Callot, Gustav Doré, Max Beckmann and Jerome Witkin – reveal how artists visualized Satan and his infernal realm and drew inspiration from religious sources and accounts by Homer, Dante, Virgil and Milton.

“As the keepers of the Rodin Sculpture Garden’s Gates of Hell, we thought it would be interesting to explore the visual history of the devil and his realm,” says BERNARD BARRYTE, the Cantor’s curator of European art. “We found that artists have had great freedom in their depictions of the devil. The Old Testament and the Christian gospels offered little specificity – only that he was a powerful, deceiving adversary of God.”

Learn more about the exhibition, which closes in December, on the Cantor website.