The huge displays of chocolates and cards has made something very clear: Valentine’s Day is around the corner. It’s hard to turn any corner without being force-fed someone else’s love – but what about those of us mending a broken heart?!
If you’re going through a break up, mourning a near-miss, or are feeling dejected from being perpetually single, it can be hard to not bump into love wherever you look: rom-coms on repeat on the TV, love songs immortalising perfect relationships, even in art. The history of art is filled with paintings and sculptures of lovers in each other’s arms, cupid firing arrows, and gorgeous nymphs – even the nymphs are getting lucky!
Well we’re here to soothe your lovelorn heart with art works all about break ups, lost love, and loneliness. Sometimes the best thing for cheering up is really allowing yourself to wallow in sadness before moving on. Bring on the ice cream, tissues, and sad paintings!
Which is your favourite?
Frida Kahlo, Little Deer (1946)
Image: Frida Kahlo . org
Kahlo’s life wasn’t without its sadness and trauma. A big proponent of that was her on-again-off-again husband Diego Rivera. In an interview, the artist said “I suffered two grave accidents in my life: one in which a streetcar knocked me down.…The other accident is Diego”. He was a liar and a cheat and several of Frida’s paintings show the emotional toll their relationship took on them. Ever been in a relationship (or situationship) that’s made you feel like this deer? Same.
Michaelangelo, Pietà (1498–1499)
Religious imagery – particularly artworks that are as old as this one – often look stiff and unnatural. What Michaelangelo manages to capture much better is the all-consuming grief of a mother who has lost her child. Where are the tissues?
Edvard Munch, Love and Pain (1895)
The artist famous for his Scream was pre-occupied with life’s woes and difficulties. That included the pain of love – which he experienced Big Time during his unsuccessful affair with Millie Thaulow, a woman much older than him who was also already married. “I was subjected here to the whole Disaster of Love—and I was for several Years nearly mad.” Love and Pain – also known as Vampire – shows the soul-sucking, damaging power of love that’s oh so easy to become addicted to.
Constant Mayer, Love’s Melancholy (1866)
We love this scene of someone who’s really in their feelings right now. In the painting she’s wearing a wedding ring and we can only assume that she’s in mourning for her lost love. We think Mayer is portraying a very subdued level of grief here for such a tragedy, because we’ve definitely pulled that face and walked through a field when a guy has seen our message but not to replied to it, let alone if he had died.
Marina Abramović & Ulay, The Lovers: The Great Wall Walk (1988)
This performance artwork might have one of the most heart wrenching back stories of all time. After collaborating on various projects together, Ambramović and Ulay became lovers, and The Great Wall Walk was one of their collaborations. The plan was for the two to walk from opposite ends of the Great Wall of China towards the centre, and when they met in the middle they’d get married. By the time they set out on their mission, they had broken up, and decided to meet in the middle of the wall to part ways forever. They then walked the remaining half of the wall away from each other. Crying yet? Us too.
Francis Bacon, Triptych, May–June 1973 (1973)
Image: Art Blart
Bacon painted this triptych in memory of his lover, George Dyer, who had killed himself two years prior. In this painting we actually see George in the three stages of taking an overdose. The loss of George hit Francis hard, despite the fact that Dyer had been causing a rift between the artist and his industry friends for a number of years.
Author: Verity Babbs