Prevention is Better than Treatment

Michael Merkel

Sächsische Landesbibliothek Dresden und Deutsches Hygiene-Museum



Michael Merkel merges a historical painting of the Dresden Kreuzkirche, which was destroyed during the Seven Years' War, a snapshot of an operating theatre in Hamburg and a current photo from the war in Ukraine. He superimposes these motifs with graphics from a medical textbook showing the application of a surgical bandage. This collage is a powerful protest against war and a plea for empathy and compassion. Merkel combines the impressive imagery with a quote from Victor Klemperer, which expresses confidence in the midst of the horrors of war.

The Dresden-based artist regularly explores the realm of medicine. His works are dedicated to the timeless theme of human vulnerability and the search for help. Merkel combines a variety of materials with different artistic techniques. With this approach, he explores the iconography of pain and suffering, of healing and faith.

PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN TREATMENT is a joint contribution of the Saxon State and University Library (SLUB) and the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum. Both institutions work on different levels at the crossroads of science, culture and society and share a commitment to providing access to contemporary knowledge for as many interested parties as possible. Another priority centres around the analysis of the social and political challenges of the present and their historical preconditions.

Image credits:

  • The ruins of the Kreuzkirche in Dresden (Canaletto, 1763)
    © Deutsche Fotothek / Martin Würker
  • Dr Bonorden during an operation in the operating theatre, Hafenkrankenhaus Hamburg, 1980 © Deutsche Fotothek / Dirk Reinartz
  • Rescue workers after a Russian missile attack on Kiev on October 10, 2022, © Photo by Ukraine: War in VR