Me, Dead at 38 (2009) by Matthew Day Jackson
Facing death head on, Brooklyn-based artist Matthew Day Jackson wants to put our fear of dying to rest in his Me, Dead ongoing series that imagines his end in various mortifying ways. Having my corpse pecked at by crows would definitely make it to the top of my list.
Judith Beheading Holofernes (1614-1620) by Artemisia Gentileschi
The Baroque contemporary of Caravaggio, Artemisia Gentileschi’s powerful depiction of this biblical story is physically violent as blood spurts from Holofernes neck. Considered one of the first feminist paintings as it shows women triumphing over men, Judith Beheading Holofernes is the 17th century equivalent of the Slasher film genre.
Theatre of Orgies and Mysteries 15 (2005) by Hermann Nitsch
It doesn’t get more gory than Vienna Actionist Hermann Nitsch’s performances. His ‘actions’ involve ritualistic acts including crucifixion, and a hell of a lot of blood. Gore-tastic.
Saturn Devouring His Son (1819-1823) by Francisco De Goya
Calling all cannibal giants – take note, eating your child isn’t the way to overcome a fear of being outgrown by your offspring as wonderfully captured in Goya‘s disturbing painting of the Greek myth about Titan Cronus. Let’s not even talk about the fact Goya painted this directly on the walls of his house…
Visual Temperature – Sofa (2008) by Cao Hiu
The Garden of Earthly Delights (1500-1505) by Hieronymus Bosch,
Don’t be fooled by the exquisite detail of Bosch‘s seemingly beautiful masterpiece. The right panel is a riotous scene of terrifying proportions. We’re talking impaling, excrement, nightmarish torture and demons.
Self-Portrait as a Drowned Man (2011) by Jeremy Millar
Inspired by a short story by Algernon Blackwood, Millar casts himself as the drowned protagonist whose body has been bored with holes by some unknown being. Its morbid, uncanny and intriguing.
Anatomical Pieces (1819) by Théodore Géricault
French Romantic Théodore Géricault’s preparatory paintings of freshly severed limbs for his influential history painting, Raft of the Medusa, are not for the faint of heart. Little is known about these disconcertingly fascinating works apart from the fact Géricault visited the Paris morgue to make direct studies of human remains.
Sex I (2003) by Jake and Dinos Chapman
Death and general badtaste feature heavily in the Chapman brothers art. Here, they bring to life one of Goya‘s prints from his famous The Disasters of War series as if the dismembered bodies had decayed and rotted. It’s gleefully revolting, in true Jake and Dinos Chapman style.
Dulle Griet (c. 1562) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
The great Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder‘s work is steeped in folklore, quite often of a dark disposition. Here, mythical character Mad Meg (Dulle Griet) leads an army of women to invade hell in a landscape of pure evil populated by hideous monsters.
Figure with Meat (1954) by Francis Bacon
Bacon was fascinated with butcher shops as a child, so animal caucuses feature in many of his paintings. Unfortunately his sitter doesn’t seem so happy to be flanked by dead meat.
Omnipresence-Surgery (1993) by ORLAN
Over a three year period in the 1990s, Orlan created plastic surgery-performances, in which she remained conscious during her operations. These intense ‘happenings’ have been described by blogger Janel Feliz as ‘visual cannibalism’.
The Face of War (1940) by Salvador Dalí
The Surrealist maestro captures the trauma of war in this depiction of a withered corpselike face populated by more never-ending deathly faces, reiterating the cycle of conflict. Take that Scream mask.
The Young Family (2002) by Patricia Piccinini
Patricia Piccinini‘s family of pups suckling on their mother would make you coo if they weren’t a weird hairless human-animal hybrid.
Still Life performance (2003-2006) by Franko B
Novelty (2016) by Golgo
The Mexican artist, who once wanted to be a surgeon, wants to literally get under his own skin, with his works that explores personal decay and the grotesque detail of the body.
Fleshlettes series by Jonathan Payne
This series of polymer clay, acrylic and hair sculptures by Los Angeles-based sculptor might be small, but they are far from cute, more like nightmare-inducing.