That Which I Should Have Done
I Did Not Do
Chicago's own king of morbid art, Ivan Albright's early influences include a stint as an illustrator of artillery casualties. Working for up to 10 years on a painting, often with single-haired brushes, Albright's deliberate style creates a luminously decayed feel that must be seen in person. The Art Institute of Chicago, where he studied, has the largest collection of his works. His 'Picture of Dorian Grey' appeared in a major film of that name in the 1940's. He will be missed.
The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Nightmare (1781)
Early master of the gothic, Fuseli may be best known for 'The Nightmare,' a sfumatu-laden invocation of elder superstitions. Compare this painting to the video box for 'Gothic' some time (but don't bother renting it).
What more needs to be said than 'The Garden of Earthly Delights?' Barely post-medieval, Bosch visually captured all the fears that the church could generate. Other, lesser known works by Bosch are even more disturbing in their depiction of humanity as deranged, disfigured idiots (as in 'Christ Bearing the Cross').
20th century creator of desolate dreamscapes, abandoned monolith-towns, and roaming figures with long shadows.
Master of the German high Gothic, Grunewald (1475-1528) captured true 'spooky' in his depiction of the Crucifixion in the center panel of the Isenheim Alterpiece (now in Colmar).
detail from the Isenheim Altarpiece
Caspar David Freidrich
German nationalistic pianter of the 19th century, Freidrich often painted desolate scenes of abandoned graveyards amid winter oaks ('Cloistered Graveyard in the Snow'). Alas, many of these works were destroyed in bombing raids during World War II.
Master of paint, engraving, and woodcut, Durer is one of the most famous artists of the 15th century. While most of his works were secular in nature, their personified depictions of death, the devil, and biblical plagues are quite vivid, and still very effective. Look to his woodcuts for the best of these pieces.
The French Ambassadors
Not officially considered a 'usually spooky' artist, Holbien is best remembered for his enigmatic inclusion of a morbid optical illusion in 'The French Ambassadors.' When viewed from a low angle, the odd shape near center-bottom becomes a beautifully rendered human skull.
Morbid series of works like Tampico ('The Horrors of War'), he routinely worked on themes including insane asylums ('pest houses') and witches in sabbath. Also very cool is the painting 'Saturn Devouring his Children.'
His masterpiece 'The Scream,' created in both paint and woodcut, has become a pop-culture icon. In the mid 1990's, the painting was stolen from it's museum in Norway, but was recovered several years later.
A student of Gustav Klimt, Scheile's tendency to graphically depict angular, seemingly malnourished women represented a disturbing trend in nudes.