Dark Themes in Art History

This gallery will be looking into the different darker and more depressing themes in art and how certain artists expressed these emotions. These artists chose to capture the more depressing aspects of their creativity with some art works reflecting on tragedy, fears, and even death.

The Seated Giant is a very interesting painting and shows some of the more innocent features to 'dark' content by giving us a very intimidating creature, in a very compromising position. He appears to be gazing out in the empty sky at the moon but only looking back to see us. It's just really peaceful even in it's shading and color choice for the content it's trying to convey.
In this painting, 'The Nightmare' we see someone who is having a rather vivid dream and the 'demons' haunting this person. The dreamer is laid about on the bed in vulnerable position as a demon sits upon her haunting the very setting as we see a ghastly horse showing from behind a veil. This veil is what I think is the borderline between reality and the dream world that the demon is controlling. There also shadows of something else lurking behind the shadows which give me the impression that whatever is behind there isn't normal.
The Scream is another fantastic painting exploring the feeling of anxiety and fear of what's to come. The artist Edvard Munch was also known to be a little mentally unstable. Given the colors used as well as the shapes of the back ground and the way they blend together create a very unsettling feeling that I believe reflected the artists' mental state at the time. The man's ghastly facial expression also brings a sense of fear or nervousness.
Another Work of art by Edvard Munch is a Self-Portrait titled Between the Clock and the Bed. The picture has him standing between his bed and his clock in contemplation of his life and his unavoidable death. This painting was done not too long before he died and during this time Edvard was in a state of depression which obviously evident in his facial expression. The bed and clock represent the choice fighting the time or laying down and accepting his imminent death.
Blind Man in Belsen is by far one of my favorite haunting paintings and depicts the horror of the holocaust and the despair of the tragedies that took place like no other. The artist Alan Moore was actually there in Germany and served in the army during World War II and experienced these horrors first hand. The dark colors and the obscurity of the peoples faces all show how it didn't matter and it seems like they are all just trying to leave and move on from the terror. The only face you can sort of make out in the picture is the man in center, not even the woman to his side is hardly visible which leads me to believe that they aren't really there and that all the surroundings is in the Blind Man's head, or it's to explore the idea that the man is blind and the faces are irrelevant.
This painting shows the destruction and devastation of Pompeii on its last day as the volcano erupted. The red horrific color of the sky shows the imminent danger ahead. However, it is contrasted by the shining golden light above the main focused crowd which I believe symbolizes a sort of peaceful ending for the citizens of Pompeii even though it is a very horrific way to end a civilization. The light is just to prominent of a source that I don't consider it to just be from the eruption, I feel its divine intervention being personified here.
This painting titled Cain is the depiction of the bible story of Cain murdering his brother Abel with a rock in a field. The surrounding atmosphere of the painting is pure catastrophic with the jagged lines filling the spaces and creating bird-like crows flapping through the air around the scene. I imagine that the way the artist drew this work was also a reflection on how or what Cain could've been seeing that day. They say in extreme rage we see with blurred vision and in the amount of rage Cain would've been feeling this particular day, the aggressive line work and shading could be showing that rage.
This is another great piece by Sir John Everett Millais titled 'Ophelia' and shows the death of Hamlet's potential wife in the play 'Hamlet'. The painting is very colorful and shows a lot of green from grass and the colors of the flowers she was picking when she fell into the river and some believe let herself die. Her face shows a great detail and has an almost depressing look as she lies dead with her arms wide accepting her fate.
Another Greek Tragedy that has gods playing with the lives of immortals and taking justice into their own hands. The painting is titled Apollo and Diana Punishing Niobe by Killing her Children and was painted by Abraham Bloemaert. The events that are taking place are of Apollo and Diana, in the clouds on the right, taking shots and killing the children of Niobe who in her own way was making her fourteen children seem superior than Apollo or Diana who were twins of Zeus and Leto. This ended in Apollo and Diana killing all of them one by one, with Apollo killing the seven sons and Diana killing the seven daughters.
The War by Otto Dix is another powerful picture that speaks a million different message but one that is coherent to everyone is the main point the artist was trying to convey and that is that war is bad and causes death to everyone involved. The main thing that stands out in the imagery given here is the fact that there is no happy picture, we see soldiers going to war, the destruction of war, the aftermath, and then the death of the soldier. There is no soldier returning home and it's absence creates an even more eerie picture, one without a happy ending.
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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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