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13 Disturbing Works of Art by Female Artists

After we posted 13 Disturbing Pieces of Art from History, several readers pointed out that none of the works were created by female artists. So, here are 13 more disturbing pieces of art, and they’re all created by women.

1. Artemesia Gentileschi - Judith and her Maidservant

The most remarked-upon absence from the previous list was Artemesia Gentileschi’s version of Judith Slaying Holofernes (as opposed to the Caravaggio, Judith Beheading Holofernes, that we featured). Feel free to click on each and decide which you prefer! In the meantime, this is an equally disturbing follow-up piece to Gentileschi’s depiction, showing Judith and her maid’s escape from Holofernes’ quarters with his severed, bleeding head in a basket.

2. Frida Kahlo - Without Hope

One of the greatest painters of the 20th century, Mexico’s own Frida Kahlo is most notable for her self-portraits. This 1945 piece, Without Hope, is no exception. Frequently ill from surgeries and bouts of pain stemming from a bus accident in her teens, Kahlo was no stranger to hospitals. Microorganisms color her bedsheet, her world is featureless, simultaneous day and night, and her easel is overtaken by disturbing apparitions.

3. Lavinia Fontana - Portrait of Antonietta Gonzalez

This particular painting is not so much creepy as it is bizarre. It seems almost like a strange joke played by artist Lavinia Fontana on an unsuspecting portrait model. It is a real portrait of a real girl, however. Antonietta Gonzalez was the daughter of Petrus Gonzales, and both (as well as Antonietta's siblings) suffered from hypertrichosis, commonly known as “werewolf syndrome.” Happily, instead of being ostracized, they were all welcomed into the court of King Henry II of France, highly educated, and well-respected.

4. Rosa Bonheur - The Duel

Rosa Bonheur was one of the great painters of the French animalier style popular in the 19th century. It focused on doing one thing and doing it well: creating realistic paintings of animals. Bonheur, in particular, specialized in farm animals, and this piece shows the dark side of that world. Most interesting is its title, The Duel, evoking the traditional duels high-class males fought for women’s affections throughout history.

5. Paula Rego - War

A far more modern piece than previous entries on the list, this painting was only created just under a decade ago, in 2003. Paula Rego, the artist, says that she was inspired by a photograph taken during the second Iraqi war. While a photograph of this sort might be a common sight in the news, replacing the victims with rabbits, a symbol of purity, gives the work a deeply disturbing angle.

6. Herrad of Landsberg - Hell, from Hortus deliciarum

The oldest artist on this list, Herrad of Landsberg was a 12th century nun famous for her illuminated manuscript, Hortus deliciarum (Garden of Delights). Considered by many scholars to be the first encyclopedia written by a woman, it contains illustrated guides to instruct novice nuns about various teachings and philosophies that the convent followed. This particularly dark illustration is, obviously, from the entry on Hell. (Larger version)

7. Josefa de Obidos - The Sacrificial Lamb

This painting, one of the still-life pieces for which Josefa de Obidos is most renowned, may not appear all that creepy upon initial inspection. Make sure you notice the lamb’s bound feet and despondent expression, however. Those details, combined with the title, The Sacrificial Lamb, tell a very disturbing story about this lamb (traditionally symbolic of innocence) and its future.

8. Giulia Lama - The Martyrdom of Saint Eurosia

Historical accounts of beheadings, if you haven’t gathered, were very popular subjects for a great number of artists. Instead of Judith and Holofernes this time (though Giulia Lama did one of those as well, albeit much less gruesome than others), we have the decapitation of Saint Eurosia, patron saint of the city of Jaca, Spain. According to tradition, she was a princess forced into a marriage with a prince of the invading Moors. When she attempted to flee, the Moorish people hunted her down and executed her.

9. Camille Claudel - Clotho

This sculpture, Clotho, is named after one of the three fates in Greek mythology. Clotho and her sisters, Lachesis and Atropos, determined the length and nature of a human’s life. Reportedly, this work was the result of Camille Claudel and her mentor, the famous sculptor Rodin, deciding to create works based on the forms of elderly women. Another version of the piece, made solely of the torso part of the overall work, is just as ghoulish on its own.

10. Evelyn De Morgan - The Field of the Slain

Although this might look like something painted during the days of the Renaissance, it was actually created in 1916 as a response to the first World War. Its artist, Evelyn De Morgan, was a follower of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, which attempted to revive the style of the early Italian masters. A Spiritualist, and thus a firm believer in the afterlife, De Morgan made this representation of the Angel of Death collecting souls to take to the other side.

11. Kathe Kollwitz - The Last Thing

This is another response to World War I, albeit from a far different perspective. After the end of the Great War, Germany experienced huge economic difficulties. Artist Kathe Kollwitz, a German native, saw the desperation and hopelessness prevalent in her fellow Germans. This woodcut, titled The Last Thing, is a grim depiction of what many elderly Germans saw as their only escape.

12. Maruja Mallo - Antro de Fosiles

The third and final war-inspired piece on this list, Antro de Fosiles was actually considered lost for decades before it reappeared in 2010 and was purchased by the Guillermo de Osma Gallery in Madrid, Spain. Artist Maruja Mallo, a friend of Salvador Dali, was also horrified by war-torn Europe, but despite this painting’s appearance, it is not a statement about the use of atomic weapons. It was actually created in 1930, 15 years before their first use.

13. Remedios Varo - Fenomeno

One of only a few female surrealist painters, Remedios Varo’s works are particularly dark and dreamlike. A penchant toward mysticism and fringe psychology in her personal life deeply influenced her works, which typically feature unusual geometric shapes, strange symbols, and beings that seem to be cobbled together from various objects and animals.

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Yes, You Can Put Your Christmas Decorations Up Now—and Should, According to Psychologists
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We all know at least one of those people who's already placing an angel on top of his or her Christmas tree while everyone else on the block still has paper ghosts stuck to their windows and a rotting pumpkin on the stoop. Maybe it’s your neighbor; maybe it’s you. Jolliness aside, these early decorators tend to get a bad rap. For some people, the holidays provide more stress than splendor, so the sight of that first plastic reindeer on a neighbor's roof isn't exactly a welcome one.

But according to two psychoanalysts, these eager decorators aren’t eccentric—they’re simply happier. Psychoanalyst Steve McKeown told UNILAD:

“Although there could be a number of symptomatic reasons why someone would want to obsessively put up decorations early, most commonly for nostalgic reasons either to relive the magic or to compensate for past neglect.

In a world full of stress and anxiety people like to associate to things that make them happy and Christmas decorations evoke those strong feelings of the childhood.

Decorations are simply an anchor or pathway to those old childhood magical emotions of excitement. So putting up those Christmas decorations early extend the excitement!”

Amy Morin, another psychoanalyst, linked Christmas decorations with the pleasures of childhood, telling the site: “The holiday season stirs up a sense of nostalgia. Nostalgia helps link people to their personal past and it helps people understand their identity. For many, putting up Christmas decorations early is a way for them to reconnect with their childhoods.”

She also explained that these nostalgic memories can help remind people of spending the holidays with loved ones who have since passed away. As Morin remarked, “Decorating early may help them feel more connected with that individual.”

And that neighbor of yours who has already been decorated since Halloween? Well, according to a study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, homes that have been warmly decorated for the holidays make the residents appear more “friendly and cohesive” compared to non-decorated homes when observed by strangers. Basically, a little wreath can go a long way.

So if you want to hang those stockings before you’ve digested your Thanksgiving dinner, go ahead. You might just find yourself happier for it.

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11 Black Friday Purchases That Aren't Always The Best Deal
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Black Friday can bring out some of the best deals of the year (along with the worst in-store behavior), but that doesn't mean every advertised price is worth splurging on. While many shoppers are eager to save a few dollars and kickstart the holiday shopping season, some purchases are better left waiting for at least a few weeks (or longer).

1. FURNITURE

Display of outdoor furniture.
Photo by Isaac Benhesed on Unsplash

Black Friday is often the best time to scope out deals on large purchases—except for furniture. That's because newer furniture models and styles often appear in showrooms in February. According to Kurt Knutsson, a consumer technology expert, the best furniture deals can be found in January, and later on in July and August. If you're aiming for outdoor patio sets, expect to find knockout prices when outdoor furniture is discounted and put on clearance closer to Labor Day.

2. TOOLS

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Unless you're shopping for a specific tool as a Christmas gift, it's often better to wait until warmer weather rolls around to catch great deals. While some big-name brands offer Black Friday discounts, the best tool deals roll around in late spring and early summer, just in time for Memorial Day and Father's Day.

3. BEDDING AND LINENS

A stack of bed linens.
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Sheet and bedding sets are often used as doorbuster items for Black Friday sales, but that doesn't mean you should splurge now. Instead, wait for annual linen sales—called white sales—to pop up after New Year's. Back in January of 1878, department store operator John Wanamaker held the first white sale as a way to push bedding inventory out of his stores. Since then, retailers have offered these top-of-the-year sales and January remains the best time to buy sheets, comforters, and other cozy bed linens.

4. HOLIDAY DÉCOR

Rows of holiday gnomes.
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If you are planning to snag a new Christmas tree, lights, or other festive décor, it's likely worth making due with what you have and snapping up new items after December 25. After the holidays, retailers are looking to quickly move out holiday items to make way for spring inventory, so ornaments, trees, yard inflatables, and other items often drastically drop in price, offering better deals than before the holidays. If you truly can't wait, the better option is shopping as close to Christmas as possible, when stores try to reduce their Christmas stock before resorting to clearance prices.

5. TOYS

Child choosing a toy car.
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Unless you're shopping for a very specific gift that's likely to sell out before the holidays, Black Friday toy deals often aren't the best time to fill your cart at toy stores. Stores often begin dropping toy prices two weeks before Christmas, meaning there's nothing wrong with saving all your shopping (and gift wrapping) until the last minute.

6. ENGAGEMENT RINGS AND JEWELRY

Rows of rings.
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Holiday jewelry commercials can be pretty persuasive when it comes to giving diamonds and gold as gifts. But, savvy shoppers can often get the best deals on baubles come spring and summer—prices tend to be at their highest between Christmas and Valentine's Day thanks to engagements and holiday gift-giving. But come March, prices begin to drop through the end of summer as jewelers see fewer purchases, making it worth passing up Black Friday deals.

7. PLANE TICKETS AND TRAVEL PACKAGES

Searching for flights online.
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While it's worth looking at plane ticket deals on Black Friday, it's not always the best idea to whip out your credit card. Despite some sales, the best time to purchase a flight is still between three weeks and three and a half months out. Some hotel sites will offer big deals after Thanksgiving and on Cyber Monday, but it doesn't mean you should spring for next year's vacation just yet. The best travel and accommodation deals often pop up in January and February when travel numbers are down.

8. FOOD AND SNACK BASKETS

Gift basket against a blue background.
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Fancy fruit, meat and cheese, and snack baskets are easy gifts for friends and family (or yourself, let's be honest), but they shouldn't be snagged on Black Friday. And because baskets are jam-packed full of perishables, you likely won't want to buy them a month away from the big day anyway. But traditionally, you'll spend less cheddar if you wait to make those purchases in December.

9. WINTER CLOTHING

Rack of women's winter clothing.
Photo by Hannah Morgan on Unsplash.

Buying clothing out of season is usually a big money saver, and winter clothes are no exception. Although some brands push big discounts online and in-store, the best savings on coats, gloves, and other winter accessories can still be found right before Black Friday—pre-Thanksgiving apparel markdowns can hit nearly 30 percent off—and after the holidays.

10. SMARTPHONES

Group of hands holding smartphones.
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While blowout tech sales are often reserved for Cyber Monday, retailers will try to pull you in-store with big electronics discounts on Black Friday. But, not all of them are really the best deals. The price for new iPhones, for example, may not budge much (if at all) the day after Thanksgiving. If you're in the market for a new phone, the best option might be waiting at least a few more weeks as prices on older models drop. Or, you can wait for bundle deals that crop up during December, where you pay standard retail price but receive free accessories or gift cards along with your new phone.

11. KITCHEN GADGETS

Row of hanging kitchen knives and utensils.
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Black Friday is a great shopping day for cooking enthusiasts—at least for those who are picky about their kitchen appliances. Name-brand tools and appliances often see good sales, since stores drop prices upwards of 40 to 50 percent to move through more inventory. But that doesn't mean all slow cookers, coffee makers, and utensil prices are the best deals. Many stores advertise no-name kitchen items that are often cheaply made and cheaply priced. Purchasing these lower-grade items can be a waste of money, even on Black Friday, since chances are you may be stuck looking for a replacement next year. And while shoppers love to find deals, the whole point of America's unofficial shopping holiday is to save money on products you truly want (and love).

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