HomeArticlesA Brief History of the Dead in Art A Brief History of the Dead in Art By Frank Lundy September 17, 2019 Articles, Blog 100 Comments Tags:anatomy, art, art and death, Ask a Mortician, Caitlin Doughty, corpse, Corpse art, dead bodies, Death, Gericault, holbein, Joel-Peter Witkin, Michelangelo, Raft of the Medusa, Sedlec Ossuary, Teresa Margolles, The Anatomy Lesson of Doctor Nicolaes Tulp, The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb, Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Related Posts Arthur J. Penn. Printmaker. Process to make linocut of Hedera helix (English ivy) The Art of Kintsugi Segmented Wood Sculpture – Art, Woodturning, Woodworking About Author admin 100 Comments heather _ September 5, 2019 Can you make the video about the Japanese book called The Complete Manual of Suicide?? it published in 1993 and sold more than one million copies. Reply Tee McWeirdy Person September 5, 2019 The Sedlec Ossuary is on my list of Go To places if I ever get to travel to Europe, I've always been fascinated with it Reply Kate LaVie September 5, 2019 I am so glad about mentioning Sedlecká kostnice (it's how we call it in Czech) because it's really magnificent piece of art out of dead. Didn't impress me on my first visit but I was like 6 years old so I was more interested in my french fries with ketchup. But for the second time, of lord. I love it. There is no sign it's conected with death (well, except it's all out of human bones) There are no skeletons in human shape anymore, no grim reapers or skeletons in robes like in other places. Just really impressively arranged bones. Like the bone wall out of femurs. Like all the decoration on the cieling. All the decoration everywhere else. It's really cool (Haha, get it? Cool… There is like over 10 degrees colder than outside) And I am so happy I saw it and felt it in person. It's really unique and powerful piece. And I just don't mind art out of human bones/parts when it's almost no chance they still have some family members alive. Or at least they just don't know the skull on the top of some of the decoration was their family member. It doesn't colide with my morals. The dead ones in this stage (being dead) don't mind but their family members can be hurt by displaying their loved one like this and I respect that. But Sedlecká kostnice was decorated with old human remains which wasn't identificated and no one was even able to identificate them. So… I think my morals are okay with that Reply Ronnie Nyx September 5, 2019 You should do a video on preservation of tattoos post mortem! Reply Logan Du Vallon September 5, 2019 Corpse consent=Corpsent.I shall excuse myself, now. Reply Logan Du Vallon September 5, 2019 Also, my favorite death art is "Skull of a Skeleton with a Burning Cigarette". #cateateyeball Reply Olivia watches you September 5, 2019 I wish you would sent those books to us in Europe as well…Oh well, I guess I’ll have to wait until it’s available 🕰 Reply Crispin’s Crispian September 5, 2019 You took selfies before it was cool to take selfies. I'm subscribing!! Reply ty houston September 5, 2019 This chick is such a babe! Ahhh! Hit me up on Snapchat @cannadelph I’d love to hear from her:))) Reply Aris Rev September 5, 2019 It’s my birthday is on the 10th Reply M00n3iGirl September 6, 2019 One of the most powerful pieces of art involving death I have seen is Ai Wei Wei's recreation of the drowned Syrian boy. #cateateyeballs Reply mellyquack September 6, 2019 On Instagram there is an artist that i recently fell in love with her work. Her name is VictoriaSkeller. I dont know how to tagg or add it but she has a # there and its #skells#CatEatEyeballs Reply Noc Walpurgii September 6, 2019 I really like the arworks of the Viennese contemporary artist Harrald Koeck. He is also the type who is visiting hospitals, dissecting rooms etc. to make his works more realistic. Love the eeriness of his paintings. You guys should really check him out! Reply Emily Warner September 6, 2019 Fav art "Ophelia" by I believe the preraphaelite artist Millais (?). Would love to give a copy of book to sis for xmas! Reply Stormy Hallahan September 6, 2019 I own a few re-articulated skeletons from various animals and my dream is to own a re-articulated human skeleton. I’m not sure about anyone else, but I would consider it art. I think, and have always thought, that bones are gorgeous. Can’t wait for your book to come out, pretty lady! ☺️ Reply Josh Carpenter September 6, 2019 You kind of hit on it here, but what's your thoughts in particular about BodyWorld? The rumors that the creator can't document who exactly all those bodies belong to? And finally, in today's news, morticians create a mural from removed tattooed skin? Reply Daniellec Clarke September 6, 2019 What about Australia 😭 Reply NovellyBella September 6, 2019 My favorite piece is Caravaggio's "David with the Head of Goliath." He managed to realistically paint his own severed head as "Goliath," and it is fascinating. #CatEatEyeballs Reply Ashley Burns September 6, 2019 Awwww no Canada! Reply Køltira Memeweaver September 6, 2019 I love Danse Macabre! Reply Elena Mendoza September 6, 2019 This is probably one of my most favorite vids…. thought provoking and the disgust of the fog and floor corpse art made me think about whay my views are on death or the plight the artist was trying to convey or the medium of corpses in non consensual art pieces…. Reply Rachel B September 6, 2019 Wasn’t expecting to have my suppressed nerd and/or love for art brought out when I started watching this one, and still not sure how I feel at the end of it all. 👍 Reply Daniel Deering September 6, 2019 Is that Indian summer? Reply Sydney Hall September 6, 2019 The Capuchin crypt ossuary in Rome. Another one of those “bones made into elaborate architectural art” type things. Gave me the most peculiar stillness in my chest that still moves me when I think about it. Reply Tobias September 6, 2019 Can you make a video about John Edward Jones who died in the Nutty putty cave in Utah Reply I am Blue September 6, 2019 Ed Gein lampshades would give the painting a nice mellow lighting Reply Lycka Unicorn September 6, 2019 Hi Caitlin, I've been subscribed for more than a year now but only got to binge watch your videos after coming to terms with my mental problem. Thank you for making me welcome death more openly <3 if you have spare time, can you discuss other different death practices from different religions? Like in India for example, where they do a public cremation as a religious practice? Or what do they do with their dead loved ones as a Muslim or as a Buddhist? Thanks! Reply Shermal Jones September 6, 2019 15:21 ayyyy got em Reply Sarai Gassmann September 6, 2019 Kind of a random question: Caitlin, are you a fan of the Big Lebowski? I think the scene where Walter stands up to the funeral home for their overly expensive "modestly priced" urn would make you proud. "Just because we're bereaved doesn't make us saps!!!" 🙂 Reply TheAbstractRainbow September 6, 2019 🎶 Velcome to ze house, to ze house of Holbine! Ya! 🎶 Reply flordeamapolita September 6, 2019 Should my corpse be made into art? Yes. Yes it should. If it can't be eaten by cats, then taxidermy me and make me into a suit worthy of Buffalo Bill or a nice skin piñata and stuff it with tiny bottles of air plane licor and let the celebration begin. Reply Char K September 6, 2019 Caitlin, this makes me curious about a related question: could you talk about corpses in photojournalism? Reply Luca Kroon September 6, 2019 I went to the Czech church when I was 13. Sadly the Chandlers were being restorated T-T it was still very interesting tho. Reply graycloud057 September 6, 2019 My wife’s mourning exhibit starts tonight! I wish you could be there for the opening. It’s going to be a real dead time! Reply melanie ponce September 7, 2019 Omg pick me pick me!!!! My favorite piece of death art is the skull of the skeleton by Vincent Van Gogh!! I did a whole project researching can Gogh and honestly that picture caught my attention more than starry night!! Also we are gonna watch your videos in my class so I’d like something to show off to my professor 🤭 Reply Ashley Tolfo September 7, 2019 Have you ever heard of Joel Peter Witkin? His photographs of corpses are wild. Reply LegendofOtaku September 7, 2019 I think it should be perfectly acceptable to use corpses for and in art when in most cases the artist can have the family/organization in charge of the body sign a waiver to protect themselves from legal action. People could also put a clause in their wills that would allow for their body to be used that way if they wish. In cases of unclaimed bodies it should be up to the state to decide if they want to allow that or not. Reply Ksee September 7, 2019 Are you married ? Reply Autumn Bender-Roncari September 7, 2019 Brody Condon's cousin is a musician and frontman of the band Beirut. Literally dropped my jaw because I immediately recognized him, he looks like Zach. Reply Kristie C September 7, 2019 Well if Im already dead I dont think Id consider it disrespectful to use my body-parts for art. I wouldnt be able to object to it lol. Its not going to hurt anything as it will eventually waste away in a grave anyway unless I choose cremation🤷♀️ Reply Erika Joy September 7, 2019 How do I request that my bones be used in a garland and/or chandelier? Thanks! (No but seriously, that was absolutely beautiful, and now I want it so bad. Way cooler than burial or cremation.) Reply VioletHelianthus September 7, 2019 Never really gave much thought about death art before. As for what’s caught my eye, I’d have to go with “Dante and Virgil in the Ninth Circle of Hell” by Gustave Doré. Caravaggio’s “Death of the Virgin” and Jacques-Louis David’s “The Death of Marat” are pretty interesting too. Seriously, we need another video on death art.#CatEatEyeballs Reply Ariel Blair September 7, 2019 #cateateyeballs My favorite death related artworks are Faithful Until the Last Dog or The Long Sleep by Briton Riviere and Charles Bough by Edwin Landseer. Reply Cat Wrangler September 7, 2019 How concerned are you about a zombie apocalypse? Is that topic ever discussed at mortician conventions? Reply BlargieArg September 7, 2019 This is actual art Reply MsCherade9 September 7, 2019 The Art History student in me is thrilled at this video, thank you! Reply Benjamin Williams September 7, 2019 “Catholisim 2: Back in the Habit”I’ve never appreciated a Sister Act joke more than this one 💚💚💚 Reply Carolien September 7, 2019 My favourite artpiece is For the Love of God from Damien Hirst! Reply Dustin Rodriguez September 7, 2019 If it's not possible for a corpse to consent, then why would one presume that it would be possible for them to not consent? Consent is a two-way thing. The ability to say 'yes' is required for the ability to say 'no', and vice versa. Someone has to make the decision. And if it's not the individual directly involved, someone else has to take the reigns. I would worry mostly about survivors since it's actually possible for things to affect them (as opposed to the corpse which can not be affected in any way apart from the material)… but even that has some problems. I expected this video to include the story of the artist who went to great lengths to organize how his corpse would be treated but then was thwarted by his family totally ignoring his wishes. He wanted to be placed in a glass casket and put on display where visitors to a museum could watch his corpse naturally decay in realtime. If I remember the story right, he got permission from the museum, got a place in the museum, designed and tested a properly sealed casket, etc. It was a huge project that took him years to organize. Then when he died, his family just said 'nah, thats gross' and desecrated his memory completely by hiding it away. It was in the late 90s or early 2000s I believe. Reply izzy grubbs September 7, 2019 I sing “the Middle Ages were magic” all the time when I watch your videos. Always makes me chuckle a bit. Reply maddie September 7, 2019 my favorite death-art-piece is probably Punished Suicide by Lodovico Brunetti !!! ( #cateateyeballs ;o) ) Reply Susan B September 7, 2019 #cateateyeballs Ok, I will now go find a bug to squish to create my death art! I have already ordered my book and would love to have your signature inside!! Lol! Calm down just kidding. I won't squish a bug. #cateateyeballs ¥_ /_/_/_£ = bug corpse. I can't draw sorry. Reply JLuVeeGee September 7, 2019 I am okay with most of this. I am not okay with the blood floor or the corpse water fog. That's not okay Reply ntcssj September 7, 2019 I thought the Body World exhibits would be talked about in this. I heard they were the bodies of Chinese prisoners that were taken? Reply Doug Alexander September 8, 2019 “Back in the habit.” Maybe the joke wasn’t as funny as when milk came out my nose. Caitlin, please stay awesome. Reply Megan Young September 8, 2019 OMG Walt Disney has practiced this art form if you think of it… Walt was not happy with the fake looking skeletons used in the pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. they hit up their friends at UCLA Medical Center and got some grisly props from the anatomy department. Eventually, as fake skeleton technology improved, "a new generation of Imagineers" replaced the real ones, which "were later returned to their countries of origin and given a proper burial”- you can find info on a book by Jason Surrell called “Pirates of the Caribbean: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies”. Not trying to promote him but Incase you want to find resources! #cateateyeballs Reply Megan Young September 8, 2019 “On ice.. like the corpses” 😂 hilarious. Reply Poetry Küken September 8, 2019 i am not from the us but i wanted to share my favourite death related art as well. it is named "gris" and its a videogame talking about the stages of grief in a very artistic way. Reply 001Broadway September 8, 2019 The Jesus jokes… LOL 🤣🤣🤣 Reply sophie September 8, 2019 this is a good video to watch while eating breakfast Reply Moe Lewis September 8, 2019 Honestly, I’d love it if after I died I was used to make art. As an artist, I want to be able to continue contributing to the art scene, even after I can’t do so actively. Just give me a nod in the artist credits, haha! Reply Absolute Buffoon September 9, 2019 You're kinda like Bill Nye but for death related subjects Reply Grace Moore September 9, 2019 The bible clarifies: Jesus did not return with the body that died. Reply Grace Moore September 9, 2019 The dead no longer live so is not the question of right moot? Reply Daya Autum September 9, 2019 As long as my body isn't mutilated, go ahead and use my corpse as a model for art or photography prior to burial.Also, only dress me in a black lace dress, I literally do not want to be caught dead in anything else. Reply Bonnie Grant September 9, 2019 Am I able to request my body be used for death art?? Seriously though…. Reply Midgetelf0585 September 9, 2019 This totally makes sense to me. I already told my Fiance that when I die I want him to use my skull for some art piece, and the rest of me can be cremated. I wanna own a human skull, so at least when I die I can let him have mine :p Reply Midgetelf0585 September 9, 2019 I want the book :'( I think you DO hate Canada. Reply Undead Hummus September 9, 2019 Look at Sally Mann's photography of decay, she photographs dead bodies on corpse farms with permission. Reply ♥Bunny Does Art♥ September 9, 2019 God corpse art is my life Reply Tony cruz September 10, 2019 i love your videos so much. you give me betty page meets emily the strange vibes Reply Becky Anderson September 10, 2019 You look nothing different from your teen years Reply Amestris September 10, 2019 It was really hard to decide, but I think my favorite piece of death related art is Carlos Schwabe's painting "Death and the Gravedigger." https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/19/Death_and_the_Gravedigger_-_C._Schwabe.jpg The numerous runner-ups are "Death and the Miser" by Hieronymus Bosch, "The Execution of Lady Jane Grey" and "The Young Martyr" by Paul Delaroche, "Saturn Devouring His Son" by Francisco de Goya, "The Garden of Death" by Hugo Simberg, "Ophelia" by John Everett Millais, "The Sick Child" by Edvard Munch, "Et in Arcadia ego" by Nicolas Poussin, and "Saint Eulalia" by John William Waterhouse. Reply Quinlynn Schultz September 10, 2019 #cateateyeballs Reply Mathieu Leader September 10, 2019 ahh the pyramid building Reply MasterQ 19 September 10, 2019 I love illustrated medical reference books. When my mom was in school to be an RN, I probably read through her books as much as she did. Reply Delta November September 10, 2019 Caitlin, I’d love to see you interview Dr Gunther Von Hagens. Please make it happen! Reply snowflakefrankiero September 10, 2019 Actually the book isn't out until the 19th in the UK 🙁 Reply B Lach September 11, 2019 The ✨BWAAAHHHH✨ sound whenever Jesus shows up is everything Reply ThePurityControl September 11, 2019 Coil – A Fire of the Mind https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32X5f8v7Ewc Reply Kay Riv September 12, 2019 What about the body works people Reply Raymond Davis September 12, 2019 Frankly I an surprised the plasticized corpses from the "BODy WORLDS" exhibit with the corpses coming out of China where the corpses were provided to the exhibit by the government "allegedly" from the bodies of political dissidents Of course on the other extreme, there is the French artist that also has plasticized corpses in various poses and stances whose work is done entirely from the bodies bequeathed to him from friends, relatives, and admirers. https://www.theguardian.com/education/2002/mar/19/arts.highereducation htthps://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/jan/23/arts.china Reply Shembre September 12, 2019 These sound like my kind of people. If only I wasn't squeamish of in person morbidity… Reply Unapologetic Pagan September 12, 2019 If you don't think you should have to require the consent of a fetus before killing it, then you have no business worrying about getting consent from corpses to use them for art. Reply Hales Rymel September 12, 2019 "Catholicism 2: Back in the Habit" Reply Doll Arts September 13, 2019 This is kind of random but have you heard of Colma the city of the dead in California Reply Pomar September 13, 2019 “Catholicism 2 back in the habit” 🤣🤣🤣🤣Solid! YES! Reply Jstarr524 September 13, 2019 I met Caitlin tonight at The Boston Public library and the experience was perfect from start to finish. Her lecture was amazing and I was able to ask her a question during a Q + A. She’s so well spoken and down to earth. The crowd was great and the staff was helpful and kind. The event was extremely well organized and Caitlin took the time to meet her fans, take pictures, and sign books. I’m grateful I was able to meet her in such a beautiful setting amongst some really cool people. If you’re able to see her in a city near you I highly suggest you go! Reply pedro lopes September 13, 2019 I want to be cremated, this is what I get from this video. Reply Meredith R. September 13, 2019 My favorite death art (or any art) is The Death Of Marat by David. So beautiful. Reply thistleheart September 13, 2019 when my art professor said "draw from life" i don't think this is what he meant… Reply Kermit is green September 14, 2019 Aw man, now I have to bury the fetus i was using as a model 😥 Reply Sean Poore September 14, 2019 My favorite death-related piece of art is Death and the Matron by Hans Baldung Grien: http://sooothisisart.blogspot.com/2012/02/death-and-matron-by-hans-baldung-grien.html?m=1 I am thinking about getting this tattooed as a momento mori! I NEED A SIGNED COPY OF YOUR BOOK PLEASE GOD!!! #CatEatEyeballs Reply bodysnatchers 4 ever September 14, 2019 petition for you to get a red streak on your bangs again because that shit looks fire ngl Reply bodysnatchers 4 ever September 14, 2019 4:30 i cackled Reply Skelloween September 14, 2019 I feel so alive Reply M. M. September 15, 2019 I just finished your book “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: and Other Lessons from the Crematory.” All I have to say to anyone thinking about reading the book: if it wasn’t life-changing, you weren’t paying attention. 10/10. I couldn’t put it down, and when I finally did, I felt like I was seeing the world through new eyes. Go buy it. Read it. You won’t regret it. Reply BJ Tman September 15, 2019 Her sense of humor is the best Reply luiza mendes September 15, 2019 Not fully related to the video but I don't know where else to ask and this seems like the best place to:I've just found out about this channel. I love how informative it is and how it works on topics that aren't that easily found, or known, but still extremely interesting. I was wondering if there are any foruns/reddit threads with similar historical/death related? Reply Mei Suratinoyo September 16, 2019 That much effort for a painting.While there's people who draw a line on a canvas and sell for millions. Reply Add a Comment Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment:*Name:* Email Address:* Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.