Francis Bacon

A Brief Survey of Art History’s Most Macabre Paintings

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It was today in 1793 that Girondist sympathizer Charlotte Corday assassinated French revolutionary leader and radical journalist Jean-Paul Marat while he was taking a bath. The stabbing was memorialized in Jacques-Louis David’s 1793 painting, The Death of Marat, depicting Marat as a martyr on par with the Pietàs of classical painting, but artists like Edvard Munch created a much bloodier version of the events (featured, below). Art history is full of beautifully rendered paintings depicting gruesome acts and macabre scenarios. Here are ten you won’t soon forget.
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The Torrid and Intriguing Tales of 10 Male Muses

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English occultist Aleister Crowley’s reputation as the snarling cue ball-headed “Great Beast” has been shattered. A book of Crowley’s aching, lovelorn poems, inspired by his affair with female impersonator Herbert Charles Jerome Pollitt, will be exhibited at the Olympia antiquarian book fair in London this month. “The verse is rather broken-backed, and vulgar where he is trying to be honest. But it was written at a time when he was feeling heartbroken and vulnerable and it does somehow humanize him,” rare book dealer Neil Pearson said of the poems. The dark libertine’s muse didn’t share his appreciation for esotericism, and the relationship ended abruptly — but Pollitt did inspire verses that included lines like, “My passion splashes out at last.” We also felt inspired — taking it upon ourselves to dig up the torrid and fascinating tales of ten male muses. The men whose lives helped shape the works of great painters, writers, and filmmakers often take a backseat to their female counterparts, but they are no less intriguing. Meet the inspiring friends and lovers of ten cultural luminaries.
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10 Famous Artworks That Remain Lost

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Van Gogh’s Sunset at Montmajour sat in an attic in Norway for six decades, believed to be a fake, but the 1888 landscape painting has finally been authenticated as the real deal. We brought you news about the discovery earlier this week when we surveyed rediscovered paintings by famous artists — those that were pegged as copies or fakes, but turned out to be originals. Now we’re looking at famous artworks that remain lost. Many pieces of fine art are stolen or destroyed, but we’re putting the focus on the works that continue to be a complete mystery, whereabouts unknown.
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Wonderful Tumblr Places Great Art in Ugly Rooms

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Whether you’re in a wood-splintering warehouse in Lubbock or a storefront in Beverly Hills with three security guards, it’s always fun to think about how art would look if you encountered it in an unexpected setting. Nearly four decades after Brian O’Doherty’s essay series Inside the White Cube ran in Artforum, the conversation about a gallery space’s effect on a work of art hasn’t so much died as it has fallen (occasionally) into dormancy. Though the name suggests otherwise, what’s great about Great Art in Ugly Rooms isn’t so much the art itself as the poignancy of seeing something recognizable (and probably very expensive) in a truly startling place. Then again, Recognizable Art in Ugly Rooms might not have the same zip to it. Here are a few keepers.
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10 Great Works of Literature and the Famous Artworks That Should Illustrate Them

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Literature and art often work best together. Walk into the New York Public Library and you’ll find a heaven of books amid decadent paintings. Frank O’Hara’s 1957 poem, “Why I Am Not a Painter,” is best read alongside Michael Goldberg’s painting, Sardines. More recently, Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs came up with Bookcam, a sculpture that, as its title suggests, is a working camera made out of books. And The Book Lovers, the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts‘ current exhibition, which features novels by Carl Andre, Salvador Dalí, and Andy Warhol, is all about the relationship between books and art. The show inspired us to explore that relationship further by matching artworks to our favorite pieces of literature – we think these would make fantastic illustrations.
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