To celebrate Halloween, we found the spookiest, bloodiest, gruesomest works in art history. Some of it will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, while others will just have you scrolling feverishly past, praying the images don’t come back to haunt you in your dreams.
1. Francisco de Goya, Saturn Devouring His Son
I can confirm that this painting has, in fact, given me nightmares. In Roman mythology, Saturn ate his children in fear that they would one day overthrow him. Goya is not the only artist to depict this figure, but his rendering is by far the creepiest.
2. Hermann Nitsch, Schuttbild
Would you be surprised to find out that the red in this painting is actual blood? Well, it is. Nitsch’s performance art group, Orgy Mystery Theater, specifically works with blood, flesh, and entrails from animals. During day-long events Nitsch and his followers will cover people in blood and then paint these canvases.
3. Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, Sakuma Daigaku
Speaking of blood, this woodblock print of Sakuma Daigaku, a Japanese samurai, drinking the gore of his decapitated enemy is not the most realistic—it’s unlikely that samurai would practice such brutality—but it’s certainly hair-raising. Read more