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13 Disturbing Works of Art by Female Artists

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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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5 Things We Know About Stranger Things Season 2
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Netflix

Stranger Things seemed to come out of nowhere to become one of television's standout new series in 2016. Netflix's sometimes scary, sometimes funny, and always exciting homage to '80s pop culture was a binge-worthy phenomenon when it debuted in July 2016. Of course, the streaming giant wasn't going to wait long to bring more Stranger Things to audiences, and a second season was announced a little over a month after its debut—and Netflix just announced that we'll be getting it a few days earlier than expected. Here are five key things we know about the show's sophomore season, which kicks off on October 27.

1. WE'LL BE GETTING EVEN MORE EPISODES.

The first season of Stranger Things consisted of eight hour-long episodes, which proved to be a solid length for the story Matt and Ross Duffer wanted to tell. While season two won't increase in length dramatically, we will be getting at least one extra hour when the show returns in 2017 with nine episodes. Not much is known about any of these episodes, but we do know the titles:

"Madmax"
"The Boy Who Came Back To Life"
"The Pumpkin Patch"
"The Palace"
"The Storm"
"The Pollywog"
"The Secret Cabin"
"The Brain"
"The Lost Brother"

There's a lot of speculation about what each title means and, as usual with Stranger Things, there's probably a reason for each one.

2. THE KIDS ARE RETURNING (INCLUDING ELEVEN).

Stranger Things fans should gear up for plenty of new developments in season two, but that doesn't mean your favorite characters aren't returning. A November 4 photo sent out by the show's Twitter account revealed most of the kids from the first season will be back in 2017, including the enigmatic Eleven, played by Millie Bobby Brown (the #elevenisback hashtag used by series regular Finn Wolfhard should really drive the point home):

3. THE SHOW'S 1984 SETTING WILL LEAD TO A DARKER TONE.

A year will have passed between the first and second seasons of the show, allowing the Duffer brothers to catch up with a familiar cast of characters that has matured since we last saw them. With the story taking place in 1984, the brothers are looking at the pop culture zeitgeist at the time for inspiration—most notably the darker tone of blockbusters like Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

"I actually really love Temple of Doom, I love that it gets a little darker and weirder from Raiders, I like that it feels very different than Raiders did," Matt Duffer told IGN. "Even though it was probably slammed at the time—obviously now people look back on it fondly, but it messed up a lot of kids, and I love that about that film—that it really traumatized some children. Not saying that we want to traumatize children, just that we want to get a little darker and weirder."

4. IT'S NOT SO MUCH A CONTINUATION AS IT IS A SEQUEL.

When you watch something like The Americans season two, it's almost impossible to catch on unless you've seen the previous episodes. Stranger Things season two will differ from the modern TV approach by being more of a sequel than a continuation of the first year. That means a more self-contained plot that doesn't leave viewers hanging at the end of nine episodes.

"There are lingering questions, but the idea with Season 2 is there's a new tension and the goal is can the characters resolve that tension by the end," Ross Duffer told IGN. "So it's going to be its own sort of complete little movie, very much in the way that Season 1 is."

Don't worry about the two seasons of Stranger Things being too similar or too different from the original, though, because when speaking with Entertainment Weekly about the influences on the show, Matt Duffer said, "I guess a lot of this is James Cameron. But he’s brilliant. And I think one of the reasons his sequels are as successful as they are is he makes them feel very different without losing what we loved about the original. So I think we kinda looked to him and what he does and tried to capture a little bit of the magic of his work.”

5. THE PREMIERE WILL TRAVEL OUTSIDE OF HAWKINS.

Everything about the new Stranger Things episodes will be kept secret until they finally debut later this year, but we do know one thing about the premiere: It won't take place entirely in the familiar town of Hawkins, Indiana. “We will venture a little bit outside of Hawkins,” Matt Duffer told Entertainment Weekly. “I will say the opening scene [of the premiere] does not take place in Hawkins.”

So, should we take "a little bit outside" as literally as it sounds? You certainly can, but in that same interview, the brothers also said they're both eager to explore the Upside Down, the alternate dimension from the first season. Whether the season kicks off just a few miles away, or a few worlds away, you'll get your answer when Stranger Things's second season debuts next month.

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Food
The Gooey History of the Fluffernutter Sandwich

Open any pantry in New England and chances are you’ll find at least one jar of Marshmallow Fluff. Not just any old marshmallow crème, but Fluff; the one manufactured by Durkee-Mower of Lynn, Massachusetts since 1920, and the preferred brand of the northeast. With its familiar red lid and classic blue label, it's long been a favorite guilty pleasure and a kitchen staple beloved throughout the region.

This gooey, spreadable, marshmallow-infused confection is used in countless recipes and found in a variety of baked goods—from whoopie pies and Rice Krispies Treats to chocolate fudge and beyond. And in the beyond lies perhaps the most treasured concoction of all: the Fluffernutter sandwich—a classic New England treat made with white bread, peanut butter, and, you guessed it, Fluff. No jelly required. Or wanted.

There are several claims to the origin of the sandwich. The first begins with Revolutionary War hero Paul Revere—or, not Paul exactly, but his great-great-great-grandchildren Emma and Amory Curtis of Melrose, Massachusetts. Both siblings were highly intelligent and forward-thinkers, and Amory was even accepted into MIT. But when the family couldn’t afford to send him, he founded a Boston-based company in the 1890s that specialized in soda fountain equipment.

He sold the business in 1901 and used the proceeds to buy the entire east side of Crystal Street in Melrose. Soon after he built a house and, in his basement, he created a marshmallow spread known as Snowflake Marshmallow Crème (later called SMAC), which actually predated Fluff. By the early 1910s, the Curtis Marshmallow Factory was established and Snowflake became the first commercially successful shelf-stable marshmallow crème.

Although other companies were manufacturing similar products, it was Emma who set the Curtis brand apart from the rest. She had a knack for marketing and thought up many different ways to popularize their marshmallow crème, including the creation of one-of-a-kind recipes, like sandwiches that featured nuts and marshmallow crème. She shared her culinary gems in a weekly newspaper column and radio show. By 1915, Snowflake was selling nationwide.

During World War I, when Americans were urged to sacrifice meat one day a week, Emma published a recipe for a peanut butter and marshmallow crème sandwich. She named her creation the "Liberty Sandwich," as a person could still obtain his or her daily nutrients while simultaneously supporting the wartime cause. Some have pointed to Emma’s 1918 published recipe as the earliest known example of a Fluffernutter, but the earliest recipe mental_floss can find comes from three years prior. In 1915, the confectioners trade journal Candy and Ice Cream published a list of lunch offerings that candy shops could advertise beyond hot soup. One of them was the "Mallonut Sandwich," which involved peanut butter and "marshmallow whip or mallo topping," spread on lightly toasted whole wheat bread.

Another origin story comes from Somerville, Massachusetts, home to entrepreneur Archibald Query. Query began making his own version of marshmallow crème and selling it door-to-door in 1917. Due to sugar shortages during World War I, his business began to fail. Query quickly sold the rights to his recipe to candy makers H. Allen Durkee and Fred Mower in 1920. The cost? A modest $500 for what would go on to become the Marshmallow Fluff empire.

Although the business partners promoted the sandwich treat early in the company’s history, the delicious snack wasn’t officially called the Fluffernutter until the 1960s, when Durkee-Mower hired a PR firm to help them market the sandwich, which resulted in a particularly catchy jingle explaining the recipe.

So who owns the bragging rights? While some anonymous candy shop owner was likely the first to actually put the two together, Emma Curtis created the early precursors and brought the concept to a national audience, and Durkee-Mower added the now-ubiquitous crème and catchy name. And the Fluffernutter has never lost its popularity.

In 2006, the Massachusetts state legislature spent a full week deliberating over whether or not the Fluffernutter should be named the official state sandwich. On one side, some argued that marshmallow crème and peanut butter added to the epidemic of childhood obesity. The history-bound fanatics that stood against them contended that the Fluffernutter was a proud culinary legacy. One state representative even proclaimed, "I’m going to fight to the death for Fluff." True dedication, but the bill has been stalled for more than a decade despite several revivals and subsequent petitions from loyal fans.

But Fluff lovers needn’t despair. There’s a National Fluffernutter Day (October 8) for hardcore fans, and the town of Somerville, Massachusetts still celebrates its Fluff pride with an annual What the Fluff? festival.

"Everyone feels like Fluff is part of their childhood," said self-proclaimed Fluff expert and the festival's executive director, Mimi Graney, in an interview with Boston Magazine. "Whether born in the 1940s or '50s, or '60s, or later—everyone feels nostalgic for Fluff. I think New Englanders in general have a particular fondness for it."

Today, the Fluffernutter sandwich is as much of a part of New England cuisine as baked beans or blueberry pie. While some people live and die by the traditional combination, the sandwich now comes in all shapes and sizes, with the addition of salty and savory toppings as a favorite twist. Wheat bread is as popular as white, and many like to grill their sandwiches for a touch of bistro flair. But don't ask a New Englander to swap out their favorite brand of marshmallow crème. That’s just asking too Fluffing much.

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