Saturday, January 21, 2017

Danse Macabre Photobook

Recently, I created 2 photo books. This one contains photos taken by me and travelling companions of danse macabre artwork. Danse Macabre, Dance of Death, Totentanz is art from the 1400s to the 1800s that is familiar to all of us--a skeleton leading a person to their demise. Also known as 'plague art', it originated on the inner walls of what was really a bone yard at the Cemetery of the Innocents in Paris about 1424-25. The artist was anonymous. 

Fortunately the images were captured and recreated as woodcuts by the German/Swiss print maker and artist Hans Holbein the Younger in 1523-26. The images became popular and were replicated around Europe and today there are maybe 50 left, painted on church and crypt walls, carved in wood under choir seats, made from stained glass or the plaster used for vaulted ceilings.  

I've seen quite a bit of it and there is still more to see.  It's usually beautifully crafted and applies a kind of softening to the moments of death. But the skeletons aren't always just helpful and kind. Sometimes they are sneaky tricksters, and they have been known to be nasty.  Just like the living human beings they used to be!

 Stained glass, wood, plaster
Walls and ceilings


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