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Nature Strikes Back 

The Art of Death 

The way in which death is portrayed in art often tells the viewer more about the culture and time of the artist than it does about the artists themselves. At times when life expectancy was low and disease was chronic and incurable, death really was a part of life and is very present (and even fun) in the allegorical art of the Middle Ages. With medicine and science ascendant in the 17th and 18th centuries artists were often visual documentarians of anatomy and procedure while the more intimate, human experience of death only emerges in the following centuries.  Photography then enabled a direct engagement with the subject that digital technology has since amplified and disseminated with unprecedented speed and volume.

It is worth noting that attitudes changed dramatically in Europe after the carnage of two World Wars. Death was no longer a 'normal' part of life but a horror that became unspeakable. This avoidance of death has largely continued to the present but attitudes are now beginning to shift again.  

Although most images here are taken from European art history, it seems that in most cultures and times it is the skeleton who is the ultimate symbol of the fate that awaits us all. 

Image links go to further information about the artist or the image, or just something of related interest. Links at the bottom of the page are to sites which have other image collections, and which were the source of some of the images featured here.

#deathart, Art, death, dying, project, elegy,
#deathart, Art, death, dying, project, elegy,
#deathart, Art, death, dying, project, elegy,
​​Queen Elizabeth I in Old Age, c.1610 at Corsham Court, Wiltshire
​Death Smoking, 19th C Japanese scroll. Have not been able to find artist name.
​​Efficiency Savings.
(Don't know date or designer but it appears as a T-shirt design on a Chilean website)  
More historical and deathly artwork.

The twitter feed for this page continues to post a #DeathArt image every day.
@elegyproject
 
The Darkest Art: A Journey through Dark Art
Pick your century or pick your artist

Discarding Images (On Facebook)
Mediavel Wonderfulness 

VANITAS VANITATUM, OMNIA VANITAS
Vanitas Paintings , Memento Mori and the Danse Macabre  (On Facebook) 
Just one of Stephen Ellcock's constantly updated  galleries

 ......... to be continued.