Kiki Smith, Untitled, Graphit auf Metho-Zelluloseund handgefärbtes Nepalpa-pier, D.Daskalopoulos Collection,© Kiki Smith

Concern with physical well-being in art is as old as art itself. The sensitive body is at once a working tool and object of observation. Six chapters examine the productive interplay of sickness and pain, medicine, care and healing through 300 exhibits.

A large spectrum of media, from drawing, painting and sculpture to video, spatial installation and performance, is displayed in this asynchronous and associative sequence. The main focus of the artworks is on physical infirmities. The themes covered include the ‘golden age’ of medicine, ‘plagues and pandemics’, ‘prophylaxis, complementary medicine and self-healing’, ‘the diagnostic gaze and the hospital system’, ‘pharmaceutics and cutting-edge research, and finally ‘patients at the crossroads of the normed and singular body’. Familiar names from the past meet young artists in their twenties who address the broad spectrum and fascinating evolution of the discourse surrounding the sick body.

The exhibition (Kunst und Medizin) comprises the positions of 50 artists from the 19th to the 21st centuries, with detours as far back as the 15th century.