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Glances at the Macabre - Halloween 2021 Edition

Halloween is at the end of the week and people will be celebrating all things creepy, scary, and the like. Just like any other theme you can imagine, horror and the macabre have a long-standing tradition in art. Throw in cultural ideologies and the exploration of the super natural, and you have a firm branch in the art family tree. From Rembrandt to Pollack, and many in between, there’s a long history of artists depicting disturbing subject matter in their work. So, what better time of the year to highlight some of my personal favorites than the week of Halloween!


But before we dive into those examples, let’s lay out some of motivations that play a part of that subject matter. There’s a lot to unpack here, and I’m not going to write a dissertation on it, but I will touch upon a few of the more popular motivations behind the work.


Let start quickly from the beginning. I mean all the way back to the caves of Lascaux and the earliest know cave drawings. Individuals would etch and scratch out things they feared and things they couldn’t explain, along with the animals that they saw every day. Flash forward thousands of years later, Egyptians would portray deities as animal forms that would watch over your souls and shepherd your spirit into the afterlife.