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As Halloween arrives, it offers a chance to delve into the occult, phantasmagoric, otherworldly, and haunted aspects of our world. In a series of posts, we’re exploring art history that offers a portal into a darker side of culture.
The “Danse Macabre” frieze at St. Mary’s Church in Lübeck was painted in 1463 by Bernt Notke. While it followed a tradition of these “dances of death” images that emerged in the second half of the 14th century, showing humans from all walks of life cavorting with skeletons, the Lübeck frieze was unparalleled. Stepping into a small chapel, the mural covered all four walls with 24 figures, arranged from pope and emperor to peasant and infant. The message wasn’t subtle — someday, no matter status, each of us will perish. And depicted in a life-size chain of movement, led by a skeleton with a flute, the work seemed to ask visitors to join in the dance.
What made the Lübeck chapel especially interesting was the cityscape behind the dancers, with its ships and structures representing the surrounding area. The popularity of the frieze means there are surviving, historic lithographs depicting its waltz of mortality, as well as striking black and white photographs (there’s even a full panorama of them viewable on Wikimedia). Another dance of death by Notke also survives in Tallinn, Estonia.
In the 1950s, artist Alfred Mahlau designed two stained glass windows that pay tribute to the lost “Danse Macabre,” which are installed in the surviving structure of St. Mary’s. On the church’s floor is also a memento mori of sorts preserved from that night in 1942: the twisted, melted remains of the fallen church bells.
The University of Virginia researchers wrote that the data “provides compelling evidence that these symbols are associated with hate.”
We are waiting for spectacle and when the quotidian, yet incongruous actions occur I wonder whether there is any real payoff coming.
Hear from Holly Jean Buck, Carolina Caycedo and David de Rozas, Simon Denny, Elizabeth Hoover, Renee Kemp-Rotan, Joseph Kunkel, and more at this free public event.
Tanega’s approach to mark-making comes across as stream of consciousness, as if she’s engaged in a conversation with herself.
Starting Monday, readers can borrow one of 50 rare and out-of-print titles, mailed to them completely free of charge, from Saint Heron Library.
EFA Open Studios offers a portal into the creative habitats of over 65 artists working in Manhattan’s longest-running studio program, including Dannielle Tegeder, Wafaa Bilal, Cui Fei, and Anina Major.
This is Yuskavage’s great gift, turning upside down our settled ways of thinking and seeing and, with ease, transforming the vulgar and ridiculous into the sublime.
51 international publishers and galleries showcase their latest editions in prints and artists’ books at this free public fair, which is fully online this year.
While hardly about the pandemic, or any of the other crises so afflicting us, all are invoked in this exhibition, which is also often tender and profoundly soulful.
These glowing, dynamic artworks reproduce something of Bosch’s chaotic energy, but on an immersive, multi-sensory scale.
This week, addressing a transphobic comedy special on Netflix, the story behind KKK hoods, cultural identity fraud, an anti-Semitic take on modern art, and more.