Composition: The Art of dying

The only thing certain in life is that we all must die at some point. People who forget this or think themselves above death are people who, according to the Vanitas movement of art that started spreading around the XVI Century, ignore the meaning and value of life. A movement that began inspired by the ideas of Memento Mori and that took the skull painted by Hans Holbein the Younger in his 1533 painting the Ambassadors as their symbol, it sought (and seeks) to make a statement about the inevitability of death and the futility of living a life of only pleasure and greed.                                                     Composition is understood as the arrangement of items, color, or any other artistic element in a painting or work of art. It is handled and used by artists to make something, be it an item or area to stand out from the rest and/or to make the spectator's eyes move in a certain direction or focus in a specific part of the canvas. 

This painting is the one that gave birth to the skull that was used henceforth as the symbol of the Vanitas movement. The skull, in a weird perspective, makes our eyes immediately follow the shape.
On one side of the painting there's gold and other valuable objects, on the other a group of skulls. An angel, probably Azrael, Angel of Death, exercises dominion over the painting.
Still Life is one of the most important characteristics of the flemish, and by extension, the vanita painters. "Pronk" can be translated as ostentation and was used in to show the vanity of vanities.
The way the elements are placed is trying to convince the viewer that the elements are actually in three dimensions, as if things were coming out of the painting, we are drawn to the skull.
Less subtle, this painting has every element out of order, wrinkled paper, a toppled bottle, and everything surrounds the symbol of death and decay. Time passes and chaos takes control.
Democritus, the philosopher who formulated the atomic theory, sits in contemplation among parts of human and animal refuse. Most objects, strewn around him, symbolize the atoms and the end of life.
Another quite direct painting, musical instruments were considered to elevate the soul and state of mind to higher planes, and here they are found destroyed and decayed around a musician.
An incredible composition that uses curved lines to take the eye through the cycle of life, from smallness comes greatness and beauty that later decay and fall into nothingness and death.
A hallmark of baroque art, this pieces shows Mary Magdalene, one of the most devoted followers of Christ after he absolved her of her sins, illuminated by dim light holding the transience of life.
One of the most important elements of Vanitas symbolism is the bubble, they tell of the brevity of life and the capacity of spontaneous death.
This painting includes elements of the life of Charles I, who died at the age of 44 by beheading. The bubbles and mangled skull represent his death and the globe the power he had.
Subtly, the skull of Vanitas shows up under the dress of a woman that carries most elements that were used as symbolism for vanity, a mirror, a gold ring, a servant, pet monkey.
Probably an early study of the skull and of the Vanitas movement in itself, the trio of skulls visually overpower navigational items.
Another great example of what characterized the Vanitas movement: beautiful still life, a boy blowing bubbles and a skull above everything else, with the lines of composition leading to it.
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