Death: Art's Final Taboo

By Johnson, Andrew | The Independent on Sunday (London, England), April 2, 2008 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Death: Art's Final Taboo


Johnson, Andrew, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)


While artists have always explored aspects of mortality, there has been a recent surge in exhibitions - from starving dogs to photographs of terminally ill people - that dare to examine the subject as never before. Andrew Johnson reports

It was, perhaps, only a matter of time before contemporary art's obsession with death led to its natural conclusion: an exhibit featuring the act of dying.

The German artist Gregor Schneider is looking for volunteers who are willing to die in an art gallery for his latest work, according to the Art Newspaper. And in Nicaragua, a Costa Rican artist has created a storm of hostility by apparently tying up a dog in a gallery and leaving it to starve to death as a work of art. Schneider, who is known for his macabre sculptures of dark, foreboding houses and bodies lying prone with plastic bags on their heads, and who has represented Germany at the Venice Biennale, said: "I want to display a person dying naturally in the piece or somebody who has just died. My aim is to show the beauty of death. I am confident we will find people to take part."

The modern public's appetite for real death can be seen in the runaway success of Gnther von Hagens's Body World's exhibition - in which real cadavers are preserved in varying states of dissection and which has been seen by 25 million people globally. It is currently showing in Manchester where it has already pulled in 100,000 visitors since February.

At the Wellcome Collection in London there is currently a moving display of portraits of ordinary people pictured before and after death by the German photographers Walter Schels and Beate Lakotta.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Death: Art's Final Taboo
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?