welcome to the diamond life

welcome to the diamond life

Monday, 3 May 2010


Photo: drawing by Karl Lagerfeld

The iconography of the skeleton and the skull first appeared in the Middle Ages, reaching its first ‘golden age’ in the 15th century with the Vanitas of European Painting. In the second half of the 20th Century, it reappeared in almost obsessively.
In classical art, the representation of death portrayed by the skull is generally one that is serene and glorious, because death is promised by the church as a passage towards eternal life. However, this representation is radically challenged in modern and contemporary art, where the skull is de-pacified; now, it shocks us with its violence, and has become the enemy and aggressor.
The scenes of carnage from World War I, the influence of Marxism and Nietzsche’s “God is dead”, the Holocaust, and then the boom of consumerism, each dramatically changed western iconography. The skull, seen as it is today, speaks frankly and shamelessly of the absurdity of death. It accepts its fascinating ugliness, or its horrific beauty, or, even better, it screeches with a black humor that is often dyed with melancholy.

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