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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Patricia Piccinini‘s family of pups suckling on their mother would make you coo if they weren’t a weird hairless human-animal hybrid.
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.
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.