6 Disturbing Paintings And The Stories Behind Them

It’s the spookiest month of the year and since Halloween is a couple of weeks away we thought it’s only convenient to add to the creepiness of October. So here are some quite disturbing paintings to get you in the mood.

1- Guernica by Pablo Picasso 1937


The painting was Picasso’s reaction to The Nazi’s casual bombing practice on the town of Guernica during Spanish Civil War (1937). The artwork became a reminder of the tragedies of war and the sufferings it inflicts upon individuals particularly innocent ones.

2- Anatomical Pieces by Theodore Gericault 1819


Géricault was increasingly interested in the naturalistic rendering of distressed anatomy, and made frequent trips to morgues. He borrowed human remains from the morgue to paint them and found beauty in the severed limbs and heads he was studying.

3- Deterioration Of Mind Over Matter by Otto Rapp 1973


A spooky painting depicting the decomposition of a human skull settled on a bird cage enclosing raw gore (clotted blood that comes from an injury) of a physical being lying lifeless at the base.The parting flesh of the scull is secured by a tromp-loeil safety pin.

J. Brooks Joyner, Editor Visual Arts, The Albertan mentioned in his critique “Rapp capitalizes on a curious combination of dream world juxtapositions, sensuous nightmares and archetypes. His work is an apotheosis of the paranoiac-critical activity and unconscious turmoil in visual images that so delighted the surrealists. His works are frightening, covertly symbolic and require in many cases a significant understanding of past iconographic detail in the development of Western Art. One painting, entitled”

 4- Saturn, Jupiter’s Father, Devours One of His Sons by Peter Paul Rubens 1636-1638


The painting depicts the Greek myth of the Titan Cronus (in the title Romanized to Saturn), who, fearing that he would be overthrown by one of his children, ate each one upon their birth.

5-The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli 1781


The Nightmare shows a woman in deep sleep with her arms thrown below her, and with a demonic and apelike incubus crouched on her chest. It seems to portray simultaneously the dreaming woman and the content of her nightmare. A few years earlier, Fuseli had fallen for a woman named Anna Landholdt in Zürich, the niece of his friend Johann Kaspar Lavater. Fuseli’s marriage proposal was met with disapproval from Landholdt’s father, and she married a family friend soon after. The Nightmare, then, can be seen as a personal portrayal of the erotic aspects of love lost. Art historian H. W. Janson suggests that the sleeping woman represents his beloved and that the demon is Fuseli himself.

6- The Flaying of The Corrupt Judge Sisamnes by Gerard David 1498


This one illustrates the arrest and flaying of the corrupt Persian judge Sisamnes, who had been guilty of prevarication, on the order of Cambyses.