7 Artists Whose Work Will Give You Nightmares

Truly great artists know that art can't be all naked nymphs and guys with puffy pants signing treaties. They understand this one fundamental truth: Art isn't legitimate unless it scares you so hard that it makes you shit out your own soul. Let's all hold hands and run screaming toward the gates of R'lyeh to see their work on display!

#7. Unidentified Artist Turns A Pig's Head Into Paris Hilton's

Wow, somebody out-ghasted Ryan Murphy.

It's not often an amateur surgeon makes the one from Human Centipede look like an underachieving visionary.

Yeah, you're seeing that right. Someone took a decapitated pig's head and painstakingly turned it into a human woman's. Man, look how happy that pig was in the very first snapshot. Then she gave in to society's pressure, turned herself into another cookie-cutter cutie, and all the joy is gone from her face. Some people make themselves pretty on the outside because they don't believe they're already beautiful on the inside. Here, you can have that dilettante philosophy for your stupid Instagram feed:

Taylor Swift, ostensibly
World problems solved, baby!

According to one Reddit group, the woman in the final shot is supposed to be Paris Hilton. Even though it isn't an exact match, the slight inaccuracy is actually understandable -- you'd better replicate her by stretching plastic bags over a bored sparrow's skeleton (but only if the bags previously housed cocaine). Still, that is one conventionally attractive pig.

... I know you're waiting for an "And the swine, too!" punchline, but know that it will never come. I save my Hilton loathing for the banal way she slouches through life.

Is this series an art project? Well ... obviously it is, but did any of this happen? Did a pig just become a decapitated blonde? The source is a magazine called Hurt You Bad, but good luck finding a copy. Like Necronomicons, it's limited to a select run and on display only to those whose magical will may resist its dark urgings.

The creator could be a plastic surgeon or it could be an artist or it could be a maniac. If you read through that Reddit thread I linked to earlier, one person suggests that the pig's head is being replaced by modeling clay (or maybe wax) toward the end, and that makes a lot of sense. The shenanigans of its faux transformation aside, isn't the greater point about what it means for women? And society? And pigs with body issues? Is this why those cartoon pigs are always so happy on butchers' logos? Because they're not Paris Hilton?

julos/iStock/Getty Images
And actually contribute to society?

Lacking a title for this piece, I think we can all agree it's called i am! pig-fuck-meat (Blonde), and then never speak of it again. What does it say about a work of art that the decapitated woman's head on a platter is the least horrifying thing about it? And why am I now picturing this as the pig's head from Lord Of The Flies? And why does that now feel like an erotic novel to me?

#6. Heide Hatry Reminds You Death Awaits

You may have turned a pig into Paris Hilton, but did you hang out with her after you did it? Heide Hatry did. In cannibal restraints, no less.

Perhaps best known for making flowers out of cow vaginas, Hatry's got another project that you can never unsee.

Heide Hatry
Yep, those are flies.

She sculpts lifelike clay women (well, kind of), then covers them in "untreated pig skin." The lips are made out of raw meat, and the eyes are actual pig eyes. Regardless of how it's made, the end result is that none of us will be able to hide when the UnWomen begin to grunt and take their first, unsteady steps.

With all that raw, unpreserved flesh, these sculptures must rot in no time at all, which may be the key to defeating them when they awaken to amass the living for their own art projects.

Heide Hatry
Hogflesh Amy Poehler welcomes you to the scream that does not end.

Hatry crafted these decaying statues to remind you you're going to die: what's commonly referred to in medieval art (as well as these tattoos inside my eyelids) as a memento mori. Although, in this case it certainly seems more like a threat than a reminder.

#5. Giovanni Da Modena Roasts A Prophet

Old Master Giovanni Da Modena (Italian for "Joe Dirt") was way ahead of ol' Boschy in the "bile-churning visions of Hell" game. His 1410 fresco The Inferno tosses all who disagree with Catholic dogma into a circle of Hell so deep that if the demons want to go easy on you, they flay your skin off a little faster before using it as a condom.

Artist so old his official site is geocities
Fitting, since the church says Hell is where people who use condoms go.

Most of Gio's work is your usual Middle Ages subject matter: scrawny people with sour faces thanking God for not smiting them. But, oh boy, when you commission a painting of Hell from him, you are going to get your florin's worth.

The centerpiece is a gigantic Beelzebub devouring sinners even as the head in his diabolical crotch spews them out to begin again. What kind of spatial warp digestive system spits a man out of vagina-jaws before he's even fully consumed? Is this an infinite loop?

However it works, it's a raw deal. You have sex one time with an eye on blocking conception, and you're endlessly shat out of Satan's pelvic mouth for all eternity. Such punishment is flat-out hypocrisy, considering elsewhere in the scene a 15th century PornHub clip is on pause:

Everything on PornHub is pirated
She went to Hell for stealing lemons. Now look at her.

Five men with suspected Al-Qaeda ties were arrested in 2002 before they could enact a plan to blow up the Bolognini Chapel Of The San Petronio Basilica, where the fresco resides. Blowing up a church sounds like something a terrorist might do, but in this case it was secondary to their main goal of getting at that painting. Why? Well:

Does it matter? He's too dead to sue.
That whole "You can't depict Muhammad" thing is just dogma, though.

That's the Prophet being tortured by a demon for ... I dunno, listening to rock 'n' roll or something. Hey, I don't want to be the guy who sides with Al-Qaeda, art vandals, and mad bombers, but I can see how Muhammad being rent to chops by talon-toed ifriti might be insulting to Islam.

Four years later, another bombing was thwarted. Plainly, this painting is indestructible. But in whose hand rests its invulnerability? The good Lord above, or the Devil who is enjoying this mega-sized album cover of his greatest hits?

Anyway, there's a great "How many terrorists does it take to destroy a painting?" joke in here somewhere.

#4. Otto Dix Offends The Nazis

If war is Hell, and Hell is an insufferable nightclub in New York's Meatpacking District, then World War I is the devil's VIP lounge. Otto Dix enlisted for three years in the German army, most of it mowing men down with machine-guns. After the war, he tried his hand at a variety of art styles, always with a focus on violence, decay, death, and all the not-fun kinds of sex. You wouldn't want to hire him to draw caricatures at your office party.

Otto Dix, smiling.

One of his paintings, Trench, was so contentious for showing war's ugliness that a Cologne, Germany, museum had to display it separately and concealed by a curtain. The mayor of Cologne nixed the museum's purchase -- a legally permissible move because Dix had never declared "No backsies!" Then Mayor Crankypants forced the museum director to resign in disgrace.

At first I couldn't even find a picture of it and assumed it burns out the motherboard of every computer that tries to host it, but eventually I succeeded. Apparently it's possible to take a scan of a print-out of a photo of the original without Hell's armies crawling through the opening created by your belief.

Or do they merely bide their time?

People really hated that painting for showing them what the artist himself had to live through. In fact, apparently nobody knows what happened to it. It appears to have slipped into a private collection via sale, but most people think the Nazis simply burned it. That's right, Otto Dix painted a war scene so ghastly even Nazi warmongers were disgusted by it.

Of course, we all know the real answer is that Hell opened at midnight on the start of World War II to reclaim the painting's incubating power of destruction. By that point, the Nazis had destroyed or sold off some 260 of his paintings. That's probably why he painted Hitler as Envy among the Seven Deadly Sins:

"You Nazis are a real bunch of my last name."

When not depicting the inhumanity of war, he focused on sexual violence, which German has a single word for because it's German: lustmord. Dix painted Juvenalian satire just to prove it's not synonymous with humor.

He particularly protested the inhumane treatment of the wretched: veterans, beggars, the disabled, prostitutes. The real monsters are the society that walks past them.

Probably the most work-safe yet disturbing result for "German skat" Google has to offer.

So, yeah, his homeland put him through the meat grinder twice and spent the years in between resenting him for pointing out its failures. Despite that, he received a slew of awards in the last decade of his life. And in 2012 a bunch of his work resurfaced. Huzzah! A victory for Otto Dix is a blow against Hitler!

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Brendan McGinley

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