I never set out to make this blog entirely about films, and here’s my first non-film-related list! There will be more to come. I’ve always been into art, so I thought I’d share some of my favourite creepy paintings.
1. Francisco Goya – Saturn Eating his Children
I think this was the first work of art that ever actually scared me. I was taken to Madrid when I was little and one memory that really stands out is seeing this at an art gallery. We didn’t even stop in front of it, I just noticed it in passing on the way out and at the time I had no knowledge of the story of Saturn. There was just this horrible ghoul with mad eyes eating a man, and I was scared but I couldn’t look away.
2. Hieronymous Bosch – The Garden of Good and Evil
Bosch created all kinds of surreal religious paintings that are packed with symbolism. This one portrays the fallout of humankind’s sins – the first panel shows the garden of Eden, the middle is of sins being committed on Earth, and the third shows the punishment for those sins in Hell. It’s like a crazy acid trip. Go and check out the details – it’s insane.
3. Salvator Rosa – Witches at Their Incantations
I only found this at the National Gallery fairly recently, and seriously even Rob Zombie would be hard pressed to create a more outlandishly gruesome scene. The broken neck of the hanged man is especially macabre.
4. Odilon Redon – Smiling Spider
5. Franz von Stuck – Lucifer
Von Stuck was a Symbolist (my favourite artistic movement, as you may have gleaned), and most of his paintings are pretty disturbing. Check out his work inspired by Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal. His Lucifer is both oddly beautiful and unnerving – the eyes are so piercing!
6. Francis Bacon – Study after Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X
7. Edwin Landseer – Man Proposes, God Disposes
This is more of a personal thing – although those polar bears are pretty unnerving. This painting is owned by my former university – Royal Holloway. They hold some of the exams in the picture gallery where this painting is hung. Apparently, one year, a student was seated in front of it and he was so disturbed by the painting that he stabbed his eyes out with his pen. Of course this could just be an urban legend. However, I can personally testify that the painting is always covered up any time there’s an exam in there now.
8. Frantisek Kupka – The Black Idol
Kupka created a series of weird, esoteric pieces that are practically Lovecraftian. This one actually inspired the design for Coppola’s Dracula.
9. Alfred Kubin – The Pond
10. Anonymous – Inferno
A recent discovery of mine. It’s a shame we don’t know who the artist behind this 16th century work is, because I’d love to see more of their art. It’s an image of Hell, but I’ve recently been reading up on the Spanish Inquisition, and these are all forms of torture that people have actually inflicted on each other. Ugh.