I have to be honest, when researching for this article, I realised that there is a lot of creepy art out there, and if these images turned up in any other industry, everyone would be saying that it’s pretty messed up. But hey, this is the art world, and when something weird happens, we just shrug and carry on.
The art world might seem all parties and champagne, but there is definitely a darker side. Anyone recall Damien Hirst’s formaldehyde animals? Polly Morgan’s taxidermy creations? Or even Andy Warhol’s Electric Chair. You see, the art world is just as messed up as everyone else in society. And, on that note, here’s our list of just some of the scariest works in art history.
Medusa, Caravaggio, 1596-98
Just look at her, mouth gaping open, hair covered in a mound of snakes, she’s the perfect art-girl Halloween costume. Medusa could turn people into stone with just one look from her steely eyes. Caravaggio takes it one step further by decapitating his lady, somehow she’s still alive, but definitely terrifying.
The Nightmare, Henry Fuseli, 1781
An eighteenth century beauty lies languidly on a bed, while a monster glares over you. Fuseli paints the embodiment of a nightmare and the darkness watching over you. Here’s hoping the lady in this painting isn’t going to wake up any time soon.
Lucifer, Francesco Scaramuzza, 19th century
Munching on a naked human, with a piercing glow in the eyes, Francesco Scaramuzza’s depiction of the devil for Dante’s inferno is frightening. A hairy, winged creature, we definitely don’t want to be bumping into him when out for a spot of trick or treat.
Hell, (The Last Judgment), Fra Angelico, 1425-1430
Fra Angelico made sure that nobody would want to visit hell when he made this painting. Bodies being cooked in cauldrons and eaten by devil-like creatures, no thanks, we promise we’ll be good!
The Scream, Edvard Munch, 1893
Arguably one of the most famous paintings of all time, Munch’s scream has definitely reached icon status. What has the figure seen that is so terrifying? Who knows, but we probably don’t want to find out.
The Face of War, Salvador Dali, 1940
This painting is a protest against the deaths caused by the Spanish Civil War and World War 2. Skulls inside skulls inside skulls inside skulls. Dali made sure we got the message about the perils of violence.
Deterioration of Mind Over Matter, Otto Rap, 1973
There’s something about the title of this image that is extra unsettling. In a time wherever everyone is depressed, anxious and seeing a therapist, it all hits a little too close to home. Add the exceptionally creepy depiction of a skull decomposing and we have perfect nightmare material.
Hell, Hans Memling, 1485
Hans Memling ensured that we never want to meet the devil. The banner he raises reads: “In hell there is no redemption.” A detail from a larger alterpiece designed to frighten 15th century church attendees not to sin, we’re pretty sure it did the trick.
Saturn Devouring His Son, Francisco Goya, 1819-1823
If this doesn’t creep you out then I don’t know what will. Just look at this gruesome creature chomping down on this poor helpless figure. Apparently in Roman mythology Gods consumed their own offspring – as you do – to ensure no other entity other than them are created. There’s clearly something weird going on here. But hey, whatever, it’s Halloween season, let’s not question too much.
Study After Velazquez’s Portrait Of Innocent X, Francis Bacon, 1953
This image couldn’t be further from Velazquez’s original if Francis Bacon tried. Pope’s are supposed to be pious people, but Francis Bacon turned his into a monstrous being, screaming out from behind a golden cage.
Text Lizzy Vartanian
Images via Wikipedia Commons