fbpx
Connect with us

DailyArtMagazine.com – Art History Stories

Halloween Special: Horror in Art

Horror in Art. Peter Paul Rubens, Head of Medusa, 1617-8, oil on canvas, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria.
Peter Paul Rubens, Head of Medusa, 1617-8, oil on canvas, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria.

Halloween Special

Halloween Special: Horror in Art

Horror isn’t an element only of the movies or literature. Artists throughout time have painted repulsive and ghastly themes. For example, a lovely man is eating his own son passionately, a beautiful lady is beheading her enemy, a sculpture of a faceless head is pouring an interesting, thick, black fluid. No, horror in art is definitely not for the faint of heart.

Classic and modern art might be less vivid since the freaky remains on canvas. However, contemporary art takes from life. Maybe it is because of the new means available for artists. Or because the human imagination has evolved, as everything else has with the passing of time. So, in honor of Halloween, we present to you some of the scariest pieces in the history of art. But, be prepared! The artworks presented here are very frightening, you will need a strong stomach. Otherwise, prepare to feel really uncomfortable.

Horror in Classic Art

Depictions of Hell

Art history can be terrifying. Classic art is mostly beautiful and elegant, until you come across to The Garden of Earthly Delights, by Hieronymus Bosch. Marta Loza analyzes this triptych thoroughly. Let’s look for a little bit at the right panel which depicts Bosch’s version of Hell. As you can see for yourself, the details are very disturbing.

Horror in Art. Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights,  c.1500, oil on oak panels, Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.
Horror in art: Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights, c.1500, oil on oak panels, Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.
Hieronymus Bosch, Hell (detail), c.1500, oil on oak panels, Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.
Hieronymus Bosch, Hell (detail), c.1500, oil on oak panels, Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.

Of course, in the past painting religious themes was common. Thus there have been many depictions of hell. Another very scary one is The Triptych of Earthly Vanity and Divine Salvation.

Hans Memling, The Triptych of Earthly Vanity and Divine Salvation, c. 1485, oil on oak panels,
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Strasbourg, France. Wikimedia Commons.
Horror in art: Hans Memling, The Triptych of Earthly Vanity and Divine Salvation, c. 1485, oil on oak panels, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Strasbourg, France. Wikimedia Commons.
Hans Memling, Hell, c. 1485, oil on oak panels, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Strasbourg, France. Wikimedia Commons.
Horror in art: Hans Memling, Hell, c. 1485, oil on oak panels, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Strasbourg, France. Wikimedia Commons.

Saturn was a Cannibal

Another major inspiration for classic art was mythology. Theoretically it isn’t (that) scary. Nevertheless, this is not the case with the legend of Saturn. Saturn was a Titan who was obsessed with power and he ate his children so that they wouldn’t dethrone him. Certainly two of the creepiest depictions of this lovely family story were made by Francisco de Goya and Peter Paul Rubens.

Horror in Art. Francisco de Goya, Saturn Devouring his Son, 1819-1823, oil mural transferred to canvas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.
Horror in art: Francisco de Goya, Saturn Devouring his Son, 1819-1823, oil mural transferred to canvas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.
Peter Paul Rubens, Saturn Devouring a Son, 1639, oil on canvas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.
Peter Paul Rubens, Saturn Devouring a Son, 1639, oil on canvas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.

Judith and Holofernes

During the Rennaissance women faced many obstacles if they wanted to be painters. One of these was when they wanted to paint nudity or violence. Nonetheless, some did paint. Probably the most famous painting in this category is Artemisia Gentileschi’s version of Judith Slaying Holofernes.

Horror in Art. Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith Slaying Holofernes, 1612-3, oil on canvas,
Museo di Capodimonte, Naples, Italy.
Horror in art: Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith Slaying Holofernes, 1612-3, oil on canvas,
Museo di Capodimonte, Naples, Italy.

Judgment of Cambyses

If anyone has ever believed that removing someone’s skin was only a contemporary horror movie thing they obviously know nothing about medieval torture. It was actually far worse than we can imagine. It was also very common in painting.

Horror in Art. Gerard David, The Judgment of Cambyses, 1498, oil on wood,
Groeninge Museum, Bruges, Belgium.
Gerard David, The Judgment of Cambyses, 1498, oil on wood,
Groeninge Museum, Bruges, Belgium.
Gerard David, The Judgment of Cambyses (panel 2), 1498, oil on wood, Groeninge Museum, Bruges, Belgium.
Gerard David, The Judgment of Cambyses (panel 2), 1498, oil on wood, Groeninge Museum, Bruges, Belgium.

Horror in Contemporary Art

Horror in contemporary art is much scarier. The new media offer a lot of creative freedom. However, there aren’t any categories by subject or means. This is because the subjects are various and random. Moreover, artists interpret their subjects very differently. So, without analyzing it too much, enjoy some of the scariest pieces of contemporary art.

Horror in Art.  Les Edwards, The Crogling Vampire, 1984, oil on board,  Artist's website.
Horror in art: Les Edwards, The Crogling Vampire, 1984, oil on board, Artist’s website.
Sara Sitkin, Untitled, 2010s, mixed media. Artist's webpage.
Horror in art: Sara Sitkin, Untitled, 2010s, mixed media. Artist’s website.
Wes Besconter, album cover of  Darkest Day of Horror for Mortician, 2003. Metal Archives.
Wes Besconter, album cover of Darkest Day of Horror for Mortician, 2003. Metal Archives.
Horror in Art.  Bom K., La Vraie Souris, 2013, Artist's webpage.
Horror in art: Bom K., La Vraie Souris, 2013, Artist’s website.

If you’re looking for beautiful masterpieces to beautify your wall – here is the DailyArt 2021 calendar for you!


If you like horror in art, you can also read:

Errika has a master’s degree in Modern and Contemporary History and she is really into History of Art. Some of her favorite artists are Otto Dix, Zdzislaw Beksinski, Frida Kahlo and Vincent Van Gogh. In her free time, she reads literature, she listens to music, she enjoys a good old movie and she creates miniatures of macabre versions of classic fairytales.

Comments

More in Halloween Special

  • The Last Supper by Leonardo The Last Supper by Leonardo

    Art State of Mind

    10 Facts about The Last Supper by Leonardo You Should Know

    By

    The legendary 15th-century painter Leonardo da Vinci has an impressive legacy of artwork that leaves people astonished and awestruck even today. The maestro left behind a huge number of artworks and sculptures that played a pivotal role in adding momentum to the Renaissance movement. Get to know...

  • Art History 101

    What Makes an Artwork Famous?

    By

    Michelangelo. Leonardo da Vinci. Pablo Picasso. Georgia O’Keeffe. Rembrandt. The Renaissance. Cubism. Impressionism. More than likely, you have heard some of these terms before. It is a shortlist of the more well-known artists and art movements in art history. These are popular vocabulary terms in Art...

  • Camille Pissarro View of Bazincourt cover Camille Pissarro View of Bazincourt cover

    Art State of Mind

    New Year’s Resolutions Inspired by Artists

    By

    What New Year’s resolutions are you making as the strangest year in recent memory comes to a close? If you’re still unsure what (if anything) you want to resolve to do in 2021, why not try one of these ten possible New Year’s resolutions inspired by...

  • Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earring Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earring

    Art State of Mind

    Homemade Masterpieces: Art Inspiring Creativity in Our Homes

    By

    Art enters our homes in a multitude of ways. We might see something that appeals to us in a movie, for example in The Accountant (2016) paintings by Jackson Pollock, Renoir, and Cassius Coolidge feature prominently. Originally the art of Cassius Coolidge entered our lives on...

  • Art State of Mind

    Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Snowy Landscape Paintings to Enjoy

    By

    Snow. You either love it, or hate it. Are you able to picture a fresh snow fall in your mind? Or is it falling outside your window as you read this article? Either way, there is nothing quite like the feeling of existing in the same...

To Top