Death and the Afterlife - Mark Langenhorst

One reason art is such a revered medium for communication is because it can provoke many emotions. There are many ways and reasons people use art to express themselves. It helps you clarify your ideas and viewpoints on certain aspects of life, such as some of the most profound questions out there, some that still remain a mystery. Questions including "Why am I here? What happens when I die?" This gallery will show various theories on life and death, making you further ponder your own opinions of what happens next.

The Mummy Coffin of Djedmontefanch, dating between 945-712 B.C., encased an old priest. In many cases, Egyptians holding great power were mummified and encased in coffins to ready them for their afterlife. This is enforced as the coffin's lid shows Djedmontefanch with a long wig and beard, which is said to ensure a long, prosperous life after death.
This krater, which is usually used for water or wine, is said to be used as part of a burial decor, which symbolically equips the deceased with tools for their afterlife. One observation could suggest the animals depicted may determine the kind of animal into they're re-birthed?
This miniature pendant of a once powerful chief shows the earrings and jewelry they wore to show fear in others. After death, they were given food, water, and supplies for their next life. Some were even thought to be able to rule the people even after they've passed.
Denise Poncher, portrayed in this painting, is kneeling with a book of prayers before death, who is seen to have multiple scythes and has already taken the lives of three others. One of the first things you notice is the delicacy of Denise, in her fancy garments, shown in smoother brushstrokes, contrasted to death, who is seen to be painted with straight, short, almost angry strokes.
This figure of a dead person, who seems to be decomposing as you read this, stands with what looks like a horn in their left hand and a cloth around their lower torso, perhaps hinting male gender. The first thing I noticed when viewing this piece was his stance, which looks similar to a stance used in Renaissance times. Could this be an image that forsaw the fall of those times?
Sarah Bernhardt, more known for her acting in those times, sculpted this image after seeing the woman displayed in this sculpture lost her son in a fisherman's net in a real event, although his hand grasping her could show a sign of life. The despair shown on the woman's face, holding her son's lifeless body, is heart-wrenching.
The Starry Night, one of the most popular art pieces ever made by van Gogh, may not be seen as a painting depicting life or death, but the Cypress tree in the foreground, which seems to reach the heavens, has long been a symbol for death and the afterlife. Knowing of van Gogh's emotions and eventual suicide, it can certainly be seen as his view on how our souls could be transported to heaven from a star or the Cypress tree.
This painting seems to be part of the cubism family, which makes sense because it was highly popular at that time. In this image, death seems to be taking its next victim. At second glance, with the closeness of the two, it almost looks like death is helping the person, almost comforting them. Perhaps they were in danger, scared, or in serious pain? For this person, it seems as though death was more merciful than continuing to live.
This painting consists of Guanyin, Goddess of Mercy, ascending above a fire. Again, the softness, smooth brushstrokes on the woman contrasts the urgent strokes coming from the fire. Her face shows serenity amongst the fire, which can be comforting for the viewer. What can be taken from this, like the other painting, is that sometimes death is more merciful for those in pain, whether physical or emotional.
Here we see two faces; a peaceful sleeping face, and above that, what seems to be death. When looking at the original piece on Google, it shows in the description "At the first, I was happy because I thought I am complete being then now I am afraid of death because I am powerless and tired."
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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