The exhibition with over 300 works reveals how the apparently contrasting disciplines of art and medicine reflect physical humanity and the human psyche.

Key moments in medical history


CHF 23.–/18.– (concessions and groups) inclusive Collection.
Free admission for members, children and young people under the age of 17.

Note for groups

We look forward to welcoming you to the Kunsthaus. For organizational reasons, prior registration is required., +41 44 253 84 84


Health is a timeless human preoccupation. 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. Taking their cue from works in the Kunsthaus collection, six chapters examine the productive interplay of sickness and pain, medicine, care and healing through 300 exhibits, over 250 of which are being made available by more than 40 national and international lenders. Early examples date back to the 15th century, while the most recent are works from 2022 produced specially for the exhibition.

A large spectrum of media, from drawing, painting and sculpture to video, spatial installation and performance, is on display 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.

Herbert Ploberger, Self-Portrait with Ophthalmological Models, around 1928/1930, Oil on wood, 49.9 x 40 x 0.8 cm Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus and Kunstbau Munich, © 2022, ProLitteris, Zurich
Barbara Hammer, Sanctus, 1990 16-mm film transferred to HD video, Courtesy of the Hammer Estate and Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York, and KOW, Berlin © Hammer Estate
Lotte Luise Volger, Lupus erythematodes, undated Moulage; wax mixture, Museum of Wax Moulages of the University Hospital Zurich and University of Zurich, © Moulagen-museum USZ/UZH
Paul Klee, Expression of a Face I, 1939, Kunsthaus Zürich, gift of the Klee-Gesellschaft Bern, 1948
Meret Oppenheim, Glove, 1985 Parkett-Ed. Nr. 4, Gloves made of goat suede, hand-piped and screen printed, ca. 21.3 x 13.2 cm Kunsthaus Zürich, gift of Ursula Hauser, 2004, © 2022, ProLitteris, Zurich*
Christoph Hänsli, The Fortress 4, 2017, Private collection © 2022, ProLitteris, Zurich
Kiki Smith, Untitled, 1992, D.Daskalopoulos Collection, © Kiki Smith


The exhibition comprises the positions of 50 artists from the 19th to the 21st centuries, with detours as far back as the 15th: Panteha Abareshi, Ilit Azoulay, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sabian Baumann, Judith Bernstein, Joseph Beuys, Louise Bourgeois, Rachal Bradley, Stefan Burger, Sophie Calle, Sabina Carraro, Georges Chicotot, Honoré Daumier, Jean Dubuffet, Albrecht Dürer, Max Ernst, Adolf Fleischmann, General Idea, Michael Günzburger, Anna Halprin and Ruedi Gerber, Barbara Hammer, Christoph Hänsli, Duane Hanson, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Damien Hirst, Ferdinand Hodler, Andreas Hofer, Hanspeter Hofmann, huber.huber, Anna Jermolaewa, Hennric Jokeit, Fritz Kahn, Martin Kippenberger, Paul Klee, Herlinde Koelbl, Bruce Nauman, MANON, Michelle Miles, Shana Moulton, Thomas Müllenbach, Matt Mullican, Meret Oppenheim, Uriel Orlow, Herbert Ploberger, Maria Pomiansky, Marc Quinn, Arnulf Rainer, RELAX chiarenza & hauser & co, Pipilotti Rist, Ana Roldán, Pamela Rosenkranz, Corinne L. Rusch, Katja Schenker, Talaya Schmid, Kiki Smith, Veronika Spierenburg, Jules Spinatsch, Lucy Stein, Johanna Stierlin, Daniel Spoerri, Rosemarie Trockel, Luc Tuymans, Varlin, Andreas Vesalius, Lotte Luise Volger, Christine Tien Wang and Nives Widauer.

Supported by Privatklinik Bethanien

Events Programme


Sat 9 April, 5 p.m.

Healing Erotic Sound Performance. Talaya Schmid and Anu Cato take the participants on an inner journey of healing thoughts about and through their own bodies.

Costs: With a valid exhibition ticket and for members CHF 4, otherwise CHF 10 / CHF 8 (concessions).


Innovative leaps in the history of medicine

Tue 12 April, 6 p.m.

Podium discussion with Prof. Monika Dommann (University of Zurich Department of History), Prof. Frank Jakobus Rühli (Director of the Institute of Evolutionary Medicine IEM, University of Zurich), and Prof. em. Jakob Tanner (University of Zurich Department of History), moderated by Damian Christinger.

Costs: With a valid exhibition ticket and for members CHF 4, otherwise CHF 10 / CHF 8 (concessions).


Sickness in art – sick bodies, wounded souls

Thu 28 April, 6 p.m.

World première of the documentary (2022, Lona media, Berlin, and ARTE) by Nicola Graef on artists and how they have handled their own illness, followed by a conversation with director Nicola Graef, artist Veronika Spierenburg and curator Cathérine Hug, hosted by Kunsthaus Vice Director Christoph Stuehn.

Admission free, no reservation required.

Breath Made Visible

Wed 25 May, 6 p.m.–8.30 p.m.

Screening of the documentary (2009, ZAS Film AG, Zurich) by Ruedi Gerber on the healing power of the dance of Anna Halprin, followed by a conversation with the director.

Costs: With a valid exhibition ticket and for members CHF 4, otherwise CHF 10 / CHF 8 (concessions).


Unlearn The Body

Thu 2 June, 6 p.m.

‘Criptonite Ableism Bingo’ performance evening with Edwin Ramirez and Nina Mühlemann (Zurich) as well as Panteha Abareshi (Los Angeles), in collaboration with Charlotte Matter, Virginia Marano and Laura Valterio, ‘Rethinking Art History through Disability’ research group, University of Zurich.

Costs: With a valid exhibition ticket and for members CHF 4, otherwise CHF 10 / CHF 8 (concessions).



Sun 12 June, 11 a.m.–12.30 p.m.

Discussion on a panorama of skin ailments in art, with Prof. emer. Günter Burg (former director of the Department of Dermatology, Zurich University Hospital) and Dr. med. Michael Geiges (curator of the Museum of Wax Moulages USZ/UZH, medical historian at the IEM, consultant dermatologist) and Kunsthaus curator Cathérine Hug. Accompanying the launch of the book ‘DermARTologie. Das Inkarnat’. Part of Zurich Art Weekend.

Costs: CHF 4 with a valid exhibition ticket and for members, otherwise CHF 10 / CHF 8 (concessions).


What is normal? Dialogue guided tour

Sun 12 June, 4.30 p.m.–6 p.m.

With artist Sabian Baumann and Kunsthaus curator Cathérine Hug. Observing biopolitical problem areas and overcoming the normed body. In association with and Zurich Art Weekend.

Costs: CHF 39 / CHF 29 concessions (incl. admission), CHF 15 members.


Self-determination, empowerment and sexual health


Thu 23 June, 6 p.m.–7.30 p.m.

A tour of the exhibition with Marc Inderbinen, psychologist at Aids-Hilfe beider Basel and Elena Grignoli, art educator at the Kunsthaus Zürich.

Costs: CHF 39 / CHF 29 concessions (incl. admission), CHF 15 members.


Anatomical wax models – an art of impression and expression


Wed 29 June, 6 p.m.–7.30 p.m.

A conversation with anatomical wax model maker Sabina Carraro, conservator and restorer at the Museum of Wax Moulages USZ/UZH and the Medical Collection IEM/UZH, and Eveline Schüep, art educator at the Kunsthaus Zürich.

Costs: CHF 39 / CHF 29 concessions (incl. admission), CHF 15 members.


Duane Hanson, Medical Doctor, 1992–1994, Courtesy the Estate of Duane Hanson and Gagosian, photo: Robert McKeever, © 2022, ProLitteris, Zurich

Public guided tour

Want to learn more about the exhibition? Our art educators will explain in detail the background to some selected works and explore with you their various layers of meaning.

German: Wednesdays at 6 p.m.
Englisch: Sat 21 May at 1 p.m.
Costs: Exhibition Ticket + CHF 6.– / CHF 4.– (concessions and members)
Registration via Agenda!

Private guided tour

We will be happy to organize a tour tailored to the needs of your group.

  • Max. 20 people
  • German, English, French, Italian
  • CHF 190.– (German) / CHF 220.– (other languages) + Admission Ticket (group tarif)
  • Duration: 1 hour

Ill: Manon, Selfportrait in Gold, 2012, Courtesy the artist, © 2021, ProLitteris, Zurich

Supported by: