FIN. - Tyler skye gordon

Our inevitable fate. A gallery of artistic pieces dedicated to the concept and subject that is Death and Dying. Often depicted as being dark or depressing, we will explore how artists throughout history have captured our end literally and figuratively, classically forcing us to accept entropy or glazing it over with an elegant grace.

Depicted here is the murder scene of a friend of the artist known as Marat. He was assassinated in his bathtub. Jacques-Louis David uses intense lighting, forcing the pale of the body and the white of the letter, the tub, etc. to contrast with the dark background as if to show a representation of death, of course, but also a dreamlike and graceful presence. The hues used in the wall and the items, even Marat's body make him almost feel alive, showing his relationship with the artist.
Seen here is the corpse of the Romantic Poet, Gustavo Adolfo, on his deathbed. As shown here, the painting is made up mostly of dark black. Yet, the white of the pillow placed gently beneath Gustavo’s head almost expresses such a contrast as if to express his passing on to another world of light, white peace. The way Vicente Palmaroli chose to stray away from adding the finer details leaves this piece pushing for a softer tone, while the diagonal lines of the pillow matching up with the subjects shoulder and tilt of the neck/body can suggest a sense of greeting, almost welcoming death with open arms and acceptance as he moves on toward the afterlife.
In this particular painting, the artist witnessed a peasant mother suffering and then dying from cancer as the subject matter. We equally witness her famished and emaciated corpse, still, expressing agony, sinking into the pillow beneath her. Her husband laying over her, expressing the same or similar emotions through life instead of death. Henry Lamb chose a sickly greenish/yellowish/gray color pallet that’s almost appalling to view. It’s deeply compares her illness to how we feel towards the piece. The scene is remarkably intense, a close shot of their heads, allowing very little extra space. This may show the urgency of the feelings running through the husband. The lines in his face are painting with touches of red, beating his blood throughout his clenched features while her lines; especially on the cheek mimic a skull poking through her thin, cold skin. A skull, as we know, the universal symbol of demise.
When Arnold Bocklin first created this self portrait, a friend proposed the question “what are you listening to?” To which Bocklin answered with personified death looming over his shoulder, playing a single note, droning on and on until he meets his end. The painter looks towards us, but his expression is one of horror. The focus is not on the audience, as most portraits are, but instead on that single note. Texture plays a large role here as well. It creates Arnold’s beard, the bony fingers of the skeleton, the wooden paint palette as well. Then, the lack of texture on the artist’s cloak allows it to appear softer, possibly velvet or other cloth. The entire scene becomes all the more interesting when the viewer recognizes the relation they have to the painting, How death is a concept in the back of every mortals mind, droning on like a note played on a violin until it creeps over our shoulders to meet us.
What could be interpreted as the perfect anti-smoking campaign advertisement, we see a portrait of a skeleton with a lit cigarette between it's teeth. Van Gogh's use of yellow washes create a realistic bone. The actual painting is soft in style but a closer look shows an almost rough, jagged outline. The cigarette, although white, is still a dark image, almost difficult to completely focus on, like death itself. It's there, but almost unable to hold and capture. The shadows on the right side of the skull offer a level of depth to the entire piece, tilting the profile to the viewer, in beckoning.
Depicted here is a skeleton tossing an invisible something to the side as it walks on water, away from the viewer. This can be interpreted as an individual shortly after death, shedding and tossing away all that represented the mortal, living world to them. Or perhaps it is death, finishing his rounds and tossing the souls of the dead into an eternal pool. Regardless, the individual appears tired, hunched over but hopeful, pressing on towards the horizon. The overall balance and repetition of line like brush strokes allow the picture to produce an infinite image of a sea and sky. This infinity mirroring that of death for all that meet him.
In this piece, we are graced with the image of a more human looking skeleton sitting atop a "death cart" or a cart used to carry and collect dead bodies. He appears comical, carefree or joyous, facing forward and aiming a bow off to the right, outside the frame of the painting. The overall art here is balanced in a way that forms a shape of a cross. This may be to express a relation to the christian belief and the crucification of Jesus Christ, meaning that death is the only true salvation and peace from Earth. The figure of death here does not look in the direction he points his weapon as if to show us how sudden and random dying can be. It is also worth noting how light and soft the colors and shapes are, almost fading into the negative space surrounding the cart as life fades away to death, eventually forgetting all that once was.
This sketch depicts a woodcutter gathering his work while Death meets with him, beckoning. The man seems frightened, almost staring at the audience as a plea for help while Death ignores the viewer, focused on the woodcutter, knowing his fate. The lines of the sketch itself branch out from the grim reaper here, unlike many other depictions of death that make him appear dark, instead he is the lightest image. A burst of light and negative space shine behind death, forcing the viewer to feel calm when gazing at him, and uncomfortable when taking a look at the dark image of the woodcutter. Although death appears scary, he is almost inviting here. Finally, the woodcutter wears a hat similar to a sleeping cap to express that his eternal slumber is near.
We see Denise Poncher kneeling before a personification of death, which holds a large of number of sickles or scythes, perhaps one for each victim to aims to take. Death stands inhumanly tall, gruesomely erect with flesh hanging and dripping from the bone of his skeleton. Behind the two of them rest three women that death has already taken. Although death is the unnatural entity in this painting, Poncher becomes the focal point with her striking red gown and almost bored expression. Her cheeks are flush with life, oppositely mirroring the women behind the skeleton whose mouths are almost alive in the emotion of horror they convey with their ajar jaws. She holds a book of prayers as if to express that through the practice, she can ignore death’s slimy grasp without fear or acknowledgment.
In this image we see death personified. It stands as a skeleton, wrapped in a cool colored robe, holding a stick. Death approaches a family, consumed by and embracing life. The 'pool' of individuals on the right shows all aspects of life: A baby, a young child, a man a woman etc. But death is unavoidable for all of these moments in the cycle, shown by death watching over them all, waiting. Color plays a big role here, with all ranges of the spectrum enveloping the people, expressing their diversity, originality and breath. Death is cold, dark, and somber with it's heavy use of blue. The shapes on the right side are very different from one another with more than one shape while death's robe is repeating a pattern of crosses, telling us that death is always the same for everyone, regardless of who they are or what they do.
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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