Death: A Self-Portrait

12 Dec 2012

The exhibit presents works of antique dealer Richard Harris’ collection devoted to visual art of death.

Death is terrifying because it is so ordinary. It happens all the time. In meantime it scares and fascinates in equal measure: fearing both the journey and the void, we deliberately poke around this subject with rather fearful interest. The idea of eternal life promises to take out death’s sting, and keeps you wondering whether art, rather than simple memento mori, really might have some kind of a similar function.

Casual representations of death such as the smirking Jolly Roger and Grim Reaper, are in fact, invented to laugh in the face of death. These images of death are, as a matter of fact, keeping us away from more scary realities like depression, pain, disease, nothingness.

The current exhibition Death: A Self-portrait is showcasing 300 works from former antique print dealer Richard Harris’ impressive personal collection of artefacts devoted to the visual art of death and our attitude towards it. The collection promises a “self-portrait”, which brings out a question оf what can Death possibly look like? As an answer, the exhibition blends different works by artists like Goya, Warhol with 16th century anatomical illustrations and delicate netsuke miniatures, featuring a range of skulls and skeletons, gathered together in an eternal danse macabre.

Death: A self-portrait | The Richard Harris Collection
Till 24th February 2013
The Wellcome Collection
215 Euston Road
London NW1 2BE

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