Andres Serrano And Three Other Artists Make Work About Death

Andres Serrano

Andres Serrano

Tereza Zelenkova

Tereza Zelenkova

Berlinde De Bruyckere

Berlinde De Bruyckere

Death becomes us all eventually, as we are exploring in the works covered in this two part article.  In light of the Halloween season, and the historical implications of death of this season, we are highlighting artists who create work that addresses or is informed by death and dying.  Part 1 included and discussed the works of Damien Hirst, Doris Salcedo, Angelo Filomeno, Konrad Smolenski and Joel Peter Witkin.  Here we examine the work of Andres Serrano, Berlinde De Bruyckere, Tereza Zelenkova and Oskar Dawicki.

Andres Serrano has built a reputation creating imagery that is shocking and confronts the viewer with heavy content, unapologetically.  His series on death takes this to the next level. Each image, a close-up intimate composition of the deceased subject, is titled according to the cause of death.  The Death Series functions as a mirror of our own mortality, delivered rawly and beautifully in rich colors and blank stares.

The work of Berlinde De Bruyckere is rough and organic, abstractly anatomical and animalistic in delivery.  The artist’s sculptural work emanates a quality that lies somewhere between a murder scene and a meat locker.  De Bruyckere’s pieces have a realistic quality of flesh torn apart yet are executed with fairly common artistic materials such as wax, wood, iron, cotton and wool is captivating.

Tereza Zelenkova created a series entitled Supreme Vice during a journey through the deserts of the Southwest.  Captured in the bleakest and most barren of environments, Zelenkova’s photographic works meditate on death through a poetic narrative that seems to address a spiritual continuum that overlaps life and death and creates a bridge between the two polarities.  The black and white series, that spans grey areas of mortality, is bound in a book, also entitled Supreme Vice.

The obituary series by Oskar Dawicki which was first exhibited in 2004 in a show aptly titled “The end of the world by accident” is far more ironic than the previously mentioned works.  The photographic works capture collages Dawicki assembled of actual obituaries he discovered in the newspaper.  The names of the deceased in the images appear to be celebrities and other famous figures at first glance.  The works toy with the spectrum of perception of significance in the value of human life and death.

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Andres Serrano’s Powerful Images Of Death

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The Morgue (Infectious Pneumonia)

Andres Serrano photography11

The Morgue (Pneumonia drowning)

The Morgue (Death Unknown)

The Morgue (Death Unknown)

Artist Andres Serrano‘s series of photographs The Morgue investigates ideas of death and our relationship with it.  Working with a forensic pathologist Serrano photographed the bodies with a near classical beauty rarely associated with the morgue.  Serrano ensured the anonymity of each person through tight cropping or veiling the face.  The way in which the light interacts with the bodies and their veils is reminiscent of Italian baroque painting.  The chiaroscuro of each photograph seems to underscore some mystery behind death balancing the morgue’s comparatively cold analytic approach.  Further, the careful attention to detail and composition dignifies each person.  Each subject, some actually unknown persons, are considered individually as initial shock gives way to contemplation and reflection.  However, these are not sentimental images.  There still remains a certain emotional detachment, a terrible loneliness in death, and Serrano’s intention is ambiguous.  Each photograph’s title is each subject’s respective cause of death, and have been inserted in each photographs’ caption.  Also, please note: Some may consider these photographs to be graphic and/or disturbing.  (via boum!bang!)

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