Johan Creten

Born in 1963 in Belgium, Johan Creten is a Flemish sculptor based in Paris and former fellow at the French Academy in Rome (1996). He works all around the world from The Hague to New York, from Miami to Mexico City. He has notably exhibited in the Renaissance rooms of the Louvre in dialogue with Bernard Palissy and at the Eugène Delacroix Museum in Paris, the Bass Museum of Art in Miami, the Istanbul Biennale, the MAMCO in Geneva and the Middelheim Museum in Antwerp. Johan Creten’s work is represented by the Perrotin Gallery in Paris, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo and Shanghai; by the Almine Rech Gallery in Brussels and the Transit Gallery in Mechelen. Image © Clair Dorn, 2018

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I Peccati | Johan Creten

Important Information

In compliance with the provisions taken by the Italian government, the activities and guided tours at the French Academy in Rome – Villa Medici are temporarily suspended.

All the spaces of Villa Medici remain closed to the public until further notice.

People who have made an online reservation for a visit to the Villa Medici scheduled during the period indicated above can request a refund by writing to [email protected]

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The French Academy in Rome – Villa Medici is happy to present the exhibition “I Peccati” by Johan Creten, curated by Noëlle Tissier, from October 15, 2020 to January 31, 2021.
The exhibition is organized by the French Academy in Rome – Villa Medici with the support of the Almine Rech and Perrotin galleries.

Forerunner, unclassifiable and against the current, Johan Creten (born in 1963) is an artist that has distinguished himself as a strong, enigmatic and intriguing figure in the artistic landscape of recent decades, occupying a singular place on the international scene of contemporary creation.

Johan Creten made his mark in the 1980s with his innovative use of ceramics. Today he is considered a leading figure in his renewal in the field of contemporary art.
Another side of his work, he uses bronze with virtuosity for the realization of monumental sculptures, including a major example: “De Vleermuis – The Bat, that will be presented in the gardens of the Villa Medici.

The exhibition “I Peccati” brings together, for the first time and with such breadth in Italy, a collection of fifty-five works by the artist, in bronze, ceramic and resin. They will be reunited and juxtaposed to some historical works by Lucas Van Leyden (1494-1533), Hans Baldung (1484-1545), Jacques Callot (1592-1635), Barthel Beham (1502-1540) and Paul van Vianen ( 1570–1614), milestones underlying Johan Creten’s thinking.

Johan Creten mentions “Slow art” and the need for a return to introspection. A movement, ranging from miniature to monumental figures, which allows you to take time and immerse yourself in an exploration of the world with its individual and societal torments, for a journey filled with surprises and emotions. The sculptures of Johan Creten made especially for the exhibition between 2019 and 2020 added to the pieces that punctuate his journey from the 80s to the present day, are associated here with 16th and 17th century prints, tapestries and bas-reliefs from the artist’s personal collection. These historical works summoned by the artist are a real reference in his creative process. They reveal his concerns, be they artistic, historical, political or philosophical. The intersection of these works in the exhibition upsets our perception through multiple reading points of view which, from the past, question the future of our humanity.

« With Johan Creten, the sins are not seven in number. Seven, this implacable number, the same as the Bible’s sacraments and Rome’s hills. Here, the sins are infinite and unlimited, inexhaustible. They are not numerable, but just designatable. Sins are not all capital, they can be imperial, imperious, peripherical, insidious, insignificant, invisible. They are always below calculation and language. The seven capital sins are little when compared with silliness, barbary, boredom, mutilation, regret, melancholy and terror, in short, with life. Thus, Johan Creten’s sculptures have nothing to do with moral or sanction, guillotine or censorship. They speak of sins, of life that merges desire and pain, hope and misery, luxury and anger, love and death, Eros and Thanatos. They speak of amphibian life, between the Styx and Paradise. They speak of instinctive life, when hearts beat, when sneaks coil, when wings deploy, when vulvas gape, when the curtain moves and the naked truth emerges from it, at last, that hypnotic Medusa.
May sin not be, after all, the tired form of purity? Does it not point to our condition of extremely fallible men? Is sin not, to quote Victor Hugo, a beautiful “gravitation”? »
– Colin Lemoine, art historian


The exhibition is accompagnied by a new publication with texts by Colin Lemoine, Nicolas Bourriaud, Noelle Tissier, and photographs by Gerrit Schreurs.


Download the press release

Johan Creten’s work speaks to the inner torments that are in each of us, as individuals but also as a society, dealing with subjects such as nature, femininity, power, politics and spirituality. Gay Gassmann, T Magazine - The New York Times



Monday to Sunday (closed on Tuesday):

Guided tours Villa Medici gardens + exhibition « I Peccati » (12€ full rate / 6€ concessions):

English: 2pm
French: 10am, 4pm
Italian: 11am, 3pm

Duration of the visit: 1.30 hour.
This tour begins in the gardens and continues in the exhibition.

Guided tours exhibition only « I Peccati » (6€ single rate):

English: 3pm
French: 11am, 5pm
Italian: 12 (noon), 4pm, 6pm

Duration of the visit: 30 min.

Self-guided tours are currently not permitted. All the tours are provided by the guides of the French Academy in Rome at the slots indicated above.


  • Concessions for the guided tours of the gardens of Villa Medici + exhibition (6€):
    Under 25; students; seniors (60 years +); unemployed; history of art professors; fellows and members of the other academies and foreign institutes in Rome; FAI members; Touring Club Italiano members; holders of a Roma pass, Metrebus card, carta più La Feltrinelli, Bibliocard, Romaeuropa Card, Opera Card or ArionCard.
    Access upon presentation onsite of a valid card or official document.
  • Free admission:
    Children under 10; disabled civilians or war victims and one accompanying person; journalists holding a press card; members of the International Council of Museums – ICOM or Monuments and Sites – ICOMOS; staff of the French Ministry of Culture.
    Access upon presentation onsite of a valid card or official document.

Tickets can be purchased on site prior to each visit, or online (except for free tickets that cannot be booked online). Pre-booking via the online ticketing is not compulsory but is recommended. Tickets must then be picked up at the Villa Medici’s reception desk a few minutes before the visit.

Visits for groups
Requests of guided tours for groups (5 people and more) must be sent by email to [email protected]


Discovery Route
Guided tour of the gardens for families and children from 6 to 10 years old
Date and time: Sunday at 10.30am
Duration: circa 2h (tour in Italian only)
Admission: 6€ per participant (adult or child)
Online advanced booking required here

Educational tour of the current exhibition for school groups
Date and time: to be determined with the Educational Office of the Villa Medici (contact indicated below)
Duration: 1h30
Admission: 1€ per child
Advanced booking required: send an email to [email protected]
A confirmation of participation will be sent to you by email for the selected date.


In order to guarantee a safe environment for everybody in the current context, access to the Villa Medici for external persons is limited to visitors with a ticket (booked online or purchased on site).

Before your visit, you must fill in this Covid-19 prevention form. You can bring it already stamped and filled, or fill it directly at your arrival.

We kindly ask visitors to bring their own personal protective mask before entering Villa Medici and to wear it during the whole duration of the guided tour.

The maximum number of visitors allowed in the exhibition space is 15 people per guided tour.

A body temperature check is provided to all visitors through a thermal scanner at their entrance (no admission for temperature above 37.5°).
We invite visitors to use the hand sanitizer available at the site entrance.

For security reasons, the French Academy in Rome – Villa Medici has set up a control system by metal detector at the entrance to the site.
Helmets of any kind, large bagpacks and suitcases are not allowed within the spaces of Villa Medici.
No cloakroom.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation!


French Academy in Rome - Villa Medici
viale Trinità dei Monti, 1 - 00187 Roma
T +39 06 6761
Metro A (stop: Spagna) or minibus 119