The seven deadly sins are interpreted by Fine Artist, MB Hanrahan, through her show, The Seven Deadly Fascinations.


To begin, a brief history of the subject matter: The Seven Deadly Sins is a classification of objectionable vices (part of Christian ethics), that have been used since early Christian times to educate and instruct Christians concerning fallen humanity’s tendency to sin. The currently recognized version of the sins is usually given as wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.

Beginning in the early 14th century, the popularity of the seven deadly sins as a theme among European artists of the time eventually helped to ingrain them in many areas of Catholic culture, and Catholic consciousness in general, throughout the world. One means of such ingraining was the creation of the mnemonic “SALIGIA” based on the first letters in Latin of the seven deadly sins: superbia, avaritia, luxuria, invidia, gullia, ira, and acedia. In addition, each “sin” was represented by an animal: Pride=peacock, Greed=toad, Envy=snake, Sloth=snail, Wrath=lion, Lust=goat, Gluttony=pig

In December 2012 I visited a LACMA exhibition, featuring circa 16th and 17th century paintings by Caravaggio and his contemporaries. There I saw a few allegorical paintings of the seven deadly sins. I had been racking my brain, trying to come up with an inspiration for my April 2013 exhibition. A few days later, I began cutting up contemporary publications, and making the collages that this series of paintings are based on.

It struck me how easy it was in the old days — Artists, dependent on Church patronage, could pick from well known religious themes, and depictions of saints and holy landscapes. There was a base level public and cultural understanding of the subject matter. The artist, relieved of being “original”, could then seemingly pour all their talent and prowess into imaginative or revolutionary execution of established themes. This is a very broad statement, but, in my experience as a modern artist, I was indoctrinated to believe I am I expected to both come up with new, obscure, shocking subject matter, and, likewise devise a mind blowing radical method of expressing that. This approach, considering the total lack of cultural and religious homogeneity in our American society, is perfect. However, for those of us, me, who are not that artistically, strategic, it can be frustrating. I totally get why Andy Warhol, and my other Pop heroes, started recreating cans, copying comics, and returning to still life as subject matter. It also occurred to me that there are quite likely many people who, NOT having grown up under monolithic cultural duress, may not even know (or be worried about) about the 7 Deadly Sins. So, here is my spin on this old theme — choosing less to narrowly reference the behavior that can take us down, as individuals, rather, widening the scope to embrace our pop culture’s undeniable fascination with sins and shortcomings.

The paintings “La Dama” and “El Diablo” are based on collage mash ups of 2 iconic “Lotteria” cards.

The painting “Beauty” was developed from a series of fashion magazine collages circa late 2012 — beautiful people with beautiful things.

Superbia/Pride is an excessive belief in one’s own abilities. Also known as Vanity, it has been called the sin from which all others arise.

Invidia/Envy is the desire for others’ traits, status, abilities, or situation.

Gullia/Gluttony is an inordinate desire to consume more than that which one requires.

Luxuria/Lust is an inordinate craving for the pleasures of the body.

Ira/Anger is manifested in the individual who spurns love and opts instead for fury. It is also known as Wrath.

Avaritia/Greed is the desire for material wealth or gain, ignoring the realm of the spiritual. It is also called Avarice or Covetousness.

Acedia/Sloth is the avoidance of physical or spiritual work.


Camera: Alan Alger


The Seven Deadly Sins Revisited
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