Spooky Art - Spencer Public Library
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Examine Famous art
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The Nightmare: Henry Fuseli, 1781
The Nightmare depicts a sleeping woman draped over the end of a bed with her head hanging
down, exposing her long neck. An incubus, sitting on her chest, peers out at the viewer. The sleeper
seems lifeless, and, lying on her back, she takes a position believed to encourage nightmares.
Emerging from a parting in the curtain is the head of a horse with bold, featureless eyes, that is also
said to be an image of nightmares.
Severed Heads: Théodore Géricault, 1818
Géricault’s still-life of severed heads is extremely disturbing. The artist was interested in the
study and decomposition of the human body and often “Checked-Out” body parts (which was
allowed to artist at the time) from hospitals for those purposes. He did many paintings of
body parts in preparation for his famous painting, The Raft of the Medusa. These macabre still
-life paintings were not intended for sale, but for study.
The Scream: Edvard Munch, 1893
This famous painting is best described by the Artist himself, “One evening I was walking along a
path, the city was on one side and the fjord below. I felt tired and ill. I stopped and looked out
over the fjord—the sun was setting, and the clouds turning blood red. I sensed a scream passing through nature; it seemed to me that I heard the scream. I painted this picture, painted the
clouds as actual blood. The color shrieked. This became The Scream. “
The Garden of Earthly Delights, “Hell”:
Hieronymous Bosch c. 1510—1515
“Hell” is the third panel in The Garden
of Earthly Delights and depicts
fantastic punishments for the various
types of sinners in the painting. Critics disagree on the meaning
behind the painting—is it a depiction
of hell based on the conservative
religious leaders ideas and writings of
the time (which could be fantastical)
or a satire on religion in general
(although Bosch was a strong member of a conservative church)? Either
way—the scene is frightening.
Saturn Devouring His Son: Francisco Goya
Saturn Devouring His Son, a disturbing
portrait of the titan Saturn consuming
one of his children, was one of six works
with which Goya decorated his dining
room. According to the legend, it was
foretold that one of the sons of Saturn
would overthrow him. To avoid this,
Saturn ate all his children accept Jupiter
(who was hidden by his mother).
The Water Ghost: Alfred Kubin 1905
Kubin is considered an important representative of symbolism and expressionism and is
noted for dark, spectral, symbolic fantasies. This skeletal, giant, ghost hovering over people in a small boat, appears to be causing a deathly storm on the sea.
Study after Velázquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X:
Francis Bacon, 1953
The work shows a distorted version of the
Portrait of Innocent X painted by Spanish
artist Diego Velázquez in 1650. In Bacon's
version of Velázquez's masterpiece, the
Pope is shown screaming yet his voice is
"silenced" by the enclosing drapes and
dark rich colors. The dark colors of the
background lend a grotesque and nightmarish tone to the painting. The pleated
curtains of the backdrop are rendered
transparent and appear to fall through
the representation of the Pope's face.
The Smiling Spider: Odilon Redon, 1881
Redon says, “Nothing can be created in art by the will alone. All art is the submission
of the will to the unconscious.” The spider, with ten legs rather than the usual eight,
exhibits a creepy smile as it performs a lopsided dance.