There are artworks that infuse us with ease, inspiration and the sense of levity. There also are artworks that represent a bit darker subject matter, usually suggesting a serious underlying concept or simply portraying history in action. And then, there are utterly creepy artworks, designed to leave your mouth open and mind confused. These are some of the latter.
A frequent choice for the selections that revolve around the subject of horror, The Nightmare is a painting by the Anglo-Swiss artist Henry Fuseli, which, to this day, has remained the artist’s most popular work. While not particularly creepy to our 21st century, horror-accustomed eye, it’s subject matter truly is worth a few trembles. While some are attributing the painting with all kinds of Jungian motives, the most common explanation for the imagery is that it’s the author’s vision of sleep paralysis, a dreadful condition that can befall anyone in the world. Yes, that’s including you and me.
Well, yeah, this might even be spared of any comment, since the image is pretty self explanatory. What’s even more horrific is the fact that the painting, which, by the way, is entitled Gallowgate Lard, is said to be a self-portrait of the author, Ken Currie himself. This socio-politically active artist has always been fascinated with the subjects of injury, aging, and disease as well as the suffering of the working class. Despite the disturbing imagery, Currie certainly has an enormous artistic talent, so if you feel brave enough, you can actually give a try to some of his work here!
Zdzisław Beksiński was truly a master of his craft. Doomsday scenarios, filled with broken skeletal figures, grotesque creatures and a plethora of religious connotations, laid foundations for what would effectively become Beksiński’s “fantastic period”. Despite the obviously grim sceneries, Beksiński himself denied that there’re any deeper ideas buried within them (he refused to entitle his paintings), going as far as calling his work somewhat optimistic. Regardless, Zdzisław Beksiński worked on a grand scale and with fine detail, thus creating artworks where creepiness is actually overshadowed by the epicness.
As If There Wasn’t Enough of Arachnophobia
Odilon Redon was obviously captivated by our eight-legged friends; therefore, besides this sad version of a human/spider hybrid, he also created the laughing version (the shift in emotions did nothing to the creepiness factor, though). The Crying Spider (1881) comes from Redon’s series of artworks known as “noirs”, images created using only shades of black. The pitch black hollow eyes, the thin, scruffy legs… It’s as if Redon was purposely striving to make spiders even less popular.
Freud’s Cup of Tea
This one might as well be described as tame in the context of Alfred Kubin’s creative output. An important figure in symbolist and expressionist art, Kubin was noted for his excessively dark themes and controversial topics. However, with a biography like his, the resulting pieces of art surely start to make sense. Rarely employing color while showcasing an almost Daliesque knack for drawing, Kubin’s work is creepy by definition and is most likely made to be such.
One of the Screaming Popes
Portrait of Pope Innocent X by Velasquez is widely regarded as the greatest portrait ever painted. So, why not make an utterly creepy re-interpretation of a painting from 1650 and infuse it with twisted psychological symbolism, thought Francis Bacon. However, Bacon was a master in his own league and an immensely talented figurative painter who’s raw and uncompromising approach made him one of the greatest paint splatters in the history of art. Needless to say, Bacon’s artistic exercises also often lead to some horrifying imagery. It has to be noted, though, that he had nothing against popes.
Okay, this selection from the vast catalog of Otto Dix is dealing with the trademark theme of Dix’s work – traumatic war experience and the brutality of war in general. Here it’s revealed in a quite literal sense. Do not be deceived by the highly graphic, almost comic book-like appearance; it only makes matters worst. The basis for these horrific sceneries is Dix’s own combat experience from World War I. It’s safe to say that the artist witnessed a lot of faces frozen in their last expression.
We bet you expected Saturn Devouring His Son, which undeniably is a creepy painting. However, as Francisco Goya didn’t lose any of his previous productivity even during the so-called “black paintings” period, there would be enough of creepy Goya’s artworks for a whole new article, so there’s great variety to choose from. Full of vile grimaces, exaggerated postures, and dark overtones, we simply had to go with Two Old Men Eating Soup. There’s something very alarming about the appearance of the man in the left corner. Seems like soup is the last thing on his mind.
Ghost of a Flea is just a straightforward terrifying piece of art. A highly imaginative miniature painting by the English poet, painter, printmaker, and all around interesting man William Blake, it actually has a lot to do with kickstarting the British wing of the Romanticism movement. However, one can’t ignore the absolutely petrifying vision the painting offers. Its main character basically is a Hollywood monster prototype- a bulky and demonic being, something akin to Peter Jackson’s vision of orcs.
Tiny People Suffering
And so we land with one of Hieronymus Bosch’s paintings. Famous for depicting all kinds of religious cataclysms, usually involving masses of people suffering via all kinds of devilish means, this Netherlandish painter set the example for other macabre loving artists around the world to follow. Employing a variety of Bible narratives, Bosch was a really mysterious and reclusive guy whose only publicly acknowledged characteristic was the deep understanding of human lust and fear. Just don’t get into the details. There are many of them, but you might find what you’ve been looking for.
Even with all the dark entries listed above, we still wish you to maintain a joyous mood throughout the night of October 31st. Despite the overbearing macabre symbolism, Halloween is a joyous celebration and a great opportunity to try on whatever outfit you see fit! All of the artworks listed in the article are world-renowned pieces of art and should be recognized as such first and foremost. With that said, if you really do want a moody piece of art at your place, don’t waste your opportunity and acquire a new canvas print with discounts as high as 79%!