Aestheticization of violence
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
- "One ought to learn anew about cruelty," said Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil, 229), "and open one's eyes. Almost everything that we call 'higher culture' is based upon the spiritualizing and intensifying of cruelty...." more ...
History in art
Plato proposed to ban poets from his ideal republic because he feared that their aesthetic ability to construct attractive narratives about immoral behaviour would corrupt young minds. Plato’s writings refer to poetry as a kind of rhetoric, whose "...influence is pervasive and often harmful." Plato believed that poetry that was "unregulated by philosophy is a danger to soul and community." He warned that tragic poetry can produce "a disordered psychic regime or constitution" by inducing "a dream-like, uncritical state in which we lose ourselves in ...sorrow, grief, anger, [and] resentment."
As such, Plato was in effect arguing that "What goes on in the theater, in your home, in your fantasy life, are connected" to what you do in real life.
Aristotle, though, advocated a useful role for music, drama, and tragedy: a way for people to purge their negative emotions. Aristotle mentions catharsis at the end of his Poetics, where he notes that after people listen to music that elicits pity and fear, they "are liable to become possessed" by these negative emotions. However, afterwards, Aristotle points out that these people return to "a normal condition as if they had been medically treated and undergone a purge [catharsis]...All experience a certain purge [catharsis] and pleasant relief. In the same manner cathartic melodies give innocent joy to men".
In art, there is the example of the Laocoön and His Sons marble.
The artist Hieronymus Bosch, from the fifteenth and sixteenth century, used images of demons, half-human animals and machines to evoke fear and confusion to portray the evil of man. The sixteenth-century artist Pieter Brueghel the Elder depicted nightmarish imagery that reflect, if in an extreme fashion, popular dread of the Apocalypse and Hell.
Mathis Gothart-Neithart, a German artist known as "Gruenewald" (1480-1528) depicted intense emotion and painful emotion. His painting of the Crucifixion does not spare the beholder, relentlessly bringing out terrible suffering and agony, induced by the cruelty and torture of the executioners and conveying a vivid sense of horror and pain.
Gruenewald’s ‘Isenheim Altarpiece’ also shows a violent image of Jesus on the cross, with his body covered in wounds, with the focus on Jesus’s suffering and his death.
In the mid-18th century, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, an Italian etcher, archaeologist and architect active from 1740, did imaginary etchings of prisons that depicted people stretched on racks or trapped like rats in maze-like dungeons, an aestheticization of violence and suffering.
In 1849, as revolutions raged in European streets and authorities were putting down protests and consolidating state powers, composer Richard Wagner wrote that "I have an enormous desire to practice a little artistic terrorism," see Art and Revolution.
Laurent Tailhade is reputed to have stated, the night before Auguste Vaillant bombed the Chamber of Deputies in 1893: "Qu'importent les victimes, si le geste est beau? [What do the victims matter, so long as the gesture is beautiful]."
And in the visual arts, Gericault painted The Raft of the Medusa (1818-19).
In 1929 André Breton's Second Manifesto of Surrealism stated that "L’acte surréaliste le plus simple consiste, revolvers aux poings, à descendre dans la rue et à tirer au hasard, tant qu’on peut, dans la foule" [The simplest Surrealist act consists of running down into the street, pistols in hand, and firing blindly, as fast as you can pull the trigger, into the crowd]."
Art horror is term describing works of art that can be classified as macabre or grotesque. Notable artists are Francisco Goya, Gustave Doré, Hans Holbein, Jose Guadalupe Posada, Matthias Grünewald and Hans Baldung Grien.
- On Tragic Art by Schiller
- The Tears of Eros by George Bataille
- Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag
- Discourse on the horror of art by Paul Virilio and Enrico Baj
- Taddeo di Bartolo, Die Hölle - Geiz (1396). San Gimignano.
- The Last Judgment (Memling) (1467-71) - Hans Memling
- The Last Judgement. Detail: The Damned. c.1431.
- Apollo Flaying Marsyas (1637) - José Ribera (1591-1652)
- Gregor Baci (16th century) - ?
- La Tuerie (1834)
- Saturn Devouring His Son (1819) - Francisco de Goya
- The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (1797-98) - Francisco Goya
- "Flagellation of a Female Samboe Slave" by William Blake (1796).
- Aestheticization as propaganda
- Art as an excuse for depicting prurient interests
- Art and revolution
- The art of murder
- Death in art
- Glorification of violence
- Graphic violence
- Media violence research
- Political art
- War painters