Updated: Oct 31, 2021
Halloween is upon us, and all sorts of spooky has descended from the adorably ghoulish to the truly terrifying. Halloween is a time of paradoxes--sweet and scary, tricks and treats, and the beautiful and sublime. This sort of tension and uneasiness lends itself well to art. In honor of the creepy time before us, here are some unsettling facts about artists and their works.
"Saturn Devouring his son" by Francisco Goya
The famous Spanish painter Francisco Goya painted happy court paintings at the beginning of his career. However, later in life he became a recluse and painted some truly disturbing paintings on the walls of his home. These were only for him, and no one really knows what to do them. One of the most disturbing of these has been entitled "Saturn Devouring His Son," though this title is really a conjecture as to what is being depicted.
Read more about this painting and Goya here.
Flat 12, 9 Curzon Place: Death for Two Music Legends
Despite the legend that Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Mama Cass died by choking on a ham sandwich, she in fact had heart failure in an apartment in London: Flat 12, 9 Curzon Place. Four years later Keith Moon, the drummer for The Who, committed suicide in the very same flat after a dispute with his partner. The owner of the flat, Harry Nillson, decided to sell the cursed flat after two of his friends had died in in it. Both Mama Cass and Keith Moon were 32 years old when they died.
Read more about their deaths here.
Géricault's Rotting Body Parts Paintings
Theodore Géricault, a French Romantic painter, wanted to depict a grotesque shipwreck for one of his paintings The Raft of Medusa. Hospitals and morgues at the time would allow students to borrow corpses, but Géricault was so fascinated by the corpses that he took home dismembered arms, legs, and torsos and hid them around his house to study the different phases of decomposition. He painted his shipwreck painting, but then went on to do a series of paintings and drawings on these rotting body parts.
Learn more about Theodore Géricault's morgue art here.
Percy Bysshe Shelley's Heart
Percy Bysshe Shelley, the famous romantic poet, was married to Mary Shelley, who infamously wrote the novel Frankenstein. When Percy drowned after his boat hit a storm, his body washed up on the shore and was later cremated. His heart didn't burn, possibly because of calcification from Percy's tuberculosis. Mary kept his heart on her person. Supposedly, she would set it out in front of her when she ate dinner and talk to it. After she died, the heart was found wrapped in poetry in her desk.
Read more about Mary Shelley here.
Charles Manson's Art
Last, and definitely least, is the artwork that Charles Manson produced. Before the murders, cult leader and criminal Manson recorded songs (through a bizarre association with Dennis Wilson from The Beach Boys). Lie: the Love and Terror Cult was released in 1970. You can learn more about the album here.
You can listen to the disturbing album here. Or you could also choose not to listen to it. Whatever is fine.
What bizarre unsettling art facts do you know about? Did we miss something big?