How the Skull Is an Ally in Art
When the Ultimate Symbol of Death Serves as Muse, It Can Force Us to Confront Our Own Mortality
You walk through the darkness of the crypt, with choral music playing from hidden speakers. All around you, human bones are arranged in patterns, tiling the walls, divided by femurs, skulls, hip bones. Skeletal arms are crossed and nailed into the wall, making the symbol of the Franciscans, normally painted, out of the real thing. Even a child’s skeleton has been strapped to the ceiling, like a fleshless cherub, but decked out as the angel of death, scales in one claw-like hand, a scythe in the other.
The scariest place …