We've all been there. It's a regular Saturday and there's nothing on Netflix you want to see. You walk out the door hoping that something inspires you. You walk into a museum or gallery, expecting to find a beautiful pieces that will move you and change your life. Suddenly, something catches your eye. You walk closer to the piece and time stops.
There are so many different types of art, but some of them almost seem to have magical powers, allowing them to stop us in our tracks just by walking near them. It’s as if they had a magnetic force. It's impossible not to look at them. As I mentioned before, some artworks appeal to our deepest emotions and are intended to provoke something inside us. They awaken the most morbid and curious side of ourselves, so we react just like when we witness an accident. That’s the kind of art you're about to see: art that will keep you glued to your screen.
'Self' - Marc Quinn
This head sculpture has shocked many not only because it’s really disturbing (I mean, what’s creepier than a bloody head displayed in the middle of a hall?), but also because Quinn, the artist, created this piece (shaped like his own head) using nothing but nine pints of his own frozen blood. Since the first one melted after the art collector's wife accidentally turned off the system that kept it frozen, Quinn created at least four more not only to make up for the first one but also to show his aging process. These pieces were the result of Quinn’s desire to push the limits of the art of portraiture, which aims to portray its subjects as realistically as possible. And what better way to do it than using something as essential to the subject as his own blood?
Isilumo Siyaluma - Zanele Muholi
In the same vein as Quinn's piece, South African photographer, artist, and activist Zanele Muholi created these artworks that use blood too. The tile of the series is Isilumo Silayuma, a Zulu phrase that means “period pains”. In this exhibition, Muholi created a series of mandala-like images made with her own menstrual blood to expose the violence inflicted on women in her native country. Muholi, who’s an advocate for the queer and black communities, wanted to protest against the frequent cases of rape, murder, and abuse that women endure every day just for being women. This work is also a direct challenge to the normalized act of “corrective rape” to “cure” lesbians.
“Sculpture of Himself” - Hananuma Masakichi
Legend has it that when Hananuma Masakichi, a Japanese “iki-ningyo” (living dolls) sculptor, found out he was dying of tuberculosis, he wanted to leave something for his beloved wife to remember him. In the 1800s, these extremely realistic sculptures, similar to those we see in wax museums, were really famous and popular all over the world. Being one of the best sculptors in his country, Masakichi decided to use his own hair, nails, and allegedly, his own teeth. When he showed his piece, he stood next to it for hours, so that the audience could guess who was the real one. Naturally, it was a huge success. Fortunately, he didn’t die as soon as he had thought and lived for 10 more years, but unfortunately, he died in the worst conditions, without the love of his life, and, if the story is right, without his teeth.
“Skeleton Sculptures” - Honore Fragonard
Talking about creepy and disturbing sculptures, we have Honore Fragonard, but not the Fragonard who painted The Swing. This Fragonard was actually the other one's cousin, a renowned anatomist who one day decided he also wanted to demonstrate his artistic skills. Taking the bodies he used to study anatomy, he turned them into impressive sculptures by embalming them with his own secret method, painting and placing them in macabre positions. Of the 700 pieces he created, only 21 still exist. The one of a man riding a horse in the middle of an army of fetuses is his most famous work, and to be honest, the most disturbing one. No offense to this Fragonard, but I think I'll go look at his cousin’s paintings after seeing these sculptures.
I bet I can guess what went through your mind as you were reading this, and that was probably most people's reaction too when these artworks were displayed for the first time. However, besides wanting to provoke that reaction in their audience, these artists also have different stories they wanted to tell through their art. They also wanted to push the boundaries of art, by exposing certain issues, or mixing science with art. Either way, these pieces managed to grab our attention in a very unique and different way.
If you like art that goes beyond standards take a look at these:
The Street Artist Who Uses Blood And Urine To Question The System
The Artist That Lets You Touch Her Genitals for Your Shame