There’s only one thing certain in life, and that's death, or at least that’s what the popular saying states. Just as breathing, eating, or sleeping, the concept of death accompanies us in our everyday life. Just like the opening credits of that hideous yet captivating TV show, 1000 Ways to Die, say, “Every day we fight a new war against germs, toxins, injury, illness, catastrophe, and calamity. The fact that we survive at all is a miracle..." And this is absolutely true. We’ve grown to fear that inevitable doom, and still, we've developed a fascination for it. That’s the whole essence of the show. You know it’s terrible, but you just can’t stop looking. Throughout the article, we’ll present you with 8 current sculptors whose creations delve into the depths of the macabre.
Our fascination for the macabre has been around since ancient times. It has been explored by art, literature, and religion so much that even during the Middle Ages it became a common allegory or motif called Danse Macabre or Dance of the Death. This regular theme or genre consisted in a personification of Death dancing among relevant or representative figures of society (like priests, kings, villagers, soldiers, etc), generally in a cemetery, to remind people of their ephemeral existence.
This dance belongs to the also quite old tradition of the memento mori, whose literal translation from Latin is “remember you’ll die.” So, following that idea, do we still use the word "macabre" in that same context? Do macabre artists create their works to remind the spectator of their unavoidable doom? I think the answers to these question are yes and no at the same time. Perhaps the intentions of these works are not precisely the same, but in a way, they do remind us of that certainty. Just think about the reason why we make art.
We use art to express our deepest and most intricate desires and emotions. Art has been the main tool to document and understand everything surrounding us. Even since those primitive times, human beings have used the different artistic disciplines to show their concerns and visions of the world. In the same way that artists choose to depict life or love, death is and will always be another protagonist in art. The macabre nowadays not only focuses on the personification of death, but it also goes a bit further than that. Now, we consider macabre everything related to gore, horror, and even to creepiness. It’s the ghastly and the eerie that, without being as evident as the original Danse Macabre, still remind us of our expiration date.