Some say you can tell how good a painting is by how long museum-goers spend looking at it while pretending to think deeply about important stuff. It takes hours (and sometimes days) to see everything in a major art museum, so at a certain point basic human instinct takes over and forces us to prioritize the time.
If this theory is true, then confusing and/or disturbing art is inherently better than other art.
In other words, drunkMall is about to let everyone in on a serious life hack for the would-be aficionado.
Say you’re moving in to a new workspace or home. You’re an actual adult now, so it would be nice for visitors to get the idea that you’re an intelligent and interesting person. This is a major reason people purchase works of art and put them on private display. Millionaires pay curators thousands and thousands of dollars to tell them what’s “good” and acquire it for them.
You’re not a millionaire? Don’t sweat it! We just told you the trick to capturing attention through art – go creepy! (You can see this principle at work in many of the items posted to our art department of the site.)
Viewing a disturbing piece sends many signals.
First, the initial feeling of shock is stronger than our idle response to most other works.
Next, if an artist knowingly creates a controversial piece then they must have been trying to say something important – whatever that may be – so there’s an inference of deeper meaning, if not merit.
Lastly, the act of displaying such art in a home or office broadcasts confidence on the part of the owner, lending authority to their judgement as a collector.
#1 Dante & Virgil by William Bouguereau
See, we’re not just talking about serial killers finger painting clowns on death row, here.
There’s a long history of macabre themes in highly respected artworks in every medium. Bouguereau’s 1850 oil painting depicts a scene from Dante Aligheri’s 14th century masterpiece, Divine Comedy. But none of that backstory is necessary to grasp this Hellish scene.
A man drives his knee into another man’s back and savagely bites into his throat as a winged demon looks on in approval.
#2 The Singing Chair by Arthur Tress
In the 1960s, Arthur Tress performed a series of photographs based on interviews with young children describing their nightmares. As you can imagine, several of these images are potentially upsetting, even to adults.
Prints of the entire series are available for purchase, directly from the artist, through the link below.
#3 Adam & Eve by Francis Picabia
This one is more mildly upsetting than blatantly scandalous but it’s a slow burner.
Picabia’s unique approach to Surrealism was to create a painting, then another painting on top of that, then another painting… and so on, until we are left with a finished work showing layers beneath layers of connected imagery.
Here is his take on the Adam and Eve creation mythology. Something about the vacant stares and engorged foreheads of the human couple overlain with a lecherous, mischievous face seems to hint at a dark and hidden truth of existence…
#4 The Nun & The Unicorn
Obscene for obvious reasons, there are deeper implications to the image of a nun fellating the phallus of a supernatural being. But we’ll let you work that out for yourselves.
If anyone knows the artist that made this, please let us know in the comments and we will credit them here.
#5 Spirit of the Forest by Odilon Redon
If this is the spirit of the forest then we’re never going in the woods again. Maybe it’s the last season of Game of Thrones fresh in our memories but this little skeleton dude is freaky as hell.
The worst part is how he looks disappointed at something, like someone is about to be punished…
#6 Murder Scene Terrarium
Forensics in the Flora is a unique piece of living art.
A beautiful moss terrarium, requiring low levels of light and only a light mist every few weeks to survive, a closer inspection reveals a miniature crew of forensics professionals poring over the crime scene of a gruesomely murdered corpse.
#7 McDonald Trump by Chris Piascik
Chris Piascik’s clever parody of a corporate clown only becomes disturbing when you realize there’s a chance it could someday be displayed in a presidential library.
Sold through Society 6, this image is available as a canvas print, t-shirt, clock, tote bag, phone case, etc.
#8 Bath Time by Susan Copich
Susan Copich has faced a lot of criticism for performing photographs such as this. And it’s easy to see why. The scene of a woman preparing to murder two small children and herself by dropping a hair dryer into a clawfoot tub is unquestionably horrifying.
Hey, we warned you.
#9 Demon by Mikhail Vrubel
Here’s another one which may require a bit of context to really creep someone out.
Mikhail Vrubel was a Russian painter whose career became the subject of controversy when he began adding bronze powders to his oils for a glistening, iridescent effect in the finished works. Some critics called these paintings “fascinating symphonies of genius” while others were disgusted by what they saw as a “wild ugliness.”
There were rumors that Vrubel sold his soul to The Devil in exchange for his talent. Those who believe these allegations say his eventual madness and ruin were the price of his evil bargain. You see, Mikhail Vrubel spent the last five years of his career obsessively painting demons while losing his mind to syphilis.
One last detail: bronze dulls with age. Those demons Mikhail painted as sparklingly beautiful creatures, they eventually decayed into a sullen ugliness.
#10 Penis Hand by Sisi Fuss
Yup, that’s a hand made of dicks.
Even the most confident among you may want to consider hanging this painting up only in the bedroom. Or, at least, anywhere that people regularly engage in sexual congress. You know, swinger club, porn mogul’s office, etc.