Monday, July 2, 2012

A Little Skullduggery in Italy . . .

.
.
.
While travelling in Italy recently, we came across a rather surprising number of death's head images and skulls in various places. It seemed like nearly every time I turned around another "tête de mort" was leering out at me in one form or another. So I don't mean to be macabre or ghoulish, but assembled below are nearly all the death's heads encountered and photographed in Asti, Florence, Siena, Perugia, and Genoa, over a two week period. Apparently this theme in public "art" is more prevalent in Italy than it is in France, for whatever reasons. Vanitas ? No doubt such imagery helps remind us that life is short... to be enjoyed while we can. Many of them were quite old, some going back hundreds of years. Others, like the graffiti spray painted on a brick wall were very recent. A timeless subject.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

14 comments:

lgsquirrel said...

Well, that's quite a collection! Very interesting. Who's the skeletal sleeping beauty in the gold and glass coffin?

Lorrene said...

They do seem to have a fascination with the dead and morbid it seems. A skull with teeth and smiling seems a tad far fetched. Whatever lights their fire is okay with me.

Steve said...

You'd think we humans would be better reconciled to our own mortality given our fascination for skulls...

Alistair said...

Quite a collection. We do seem to have a fascination for such things, more so in the past. It does seem to be most prevalent in countries with a history of Roman Catholicism more than others - in the Western world at any rate.

Gives me the willies keeping a skeleton in a glass case on show. Makes me wonder what the purpose of it is?

Great quality shots though as usual Owen, some of them taken in tricky lighting no doubt.

Peter said...

I can just imagine how you must have enjoyed taking these photos and making the post! :-)

James said...

Very cool Owen! I always enjoy the interesting things that you share.

I see a few skulls that I would have loved to have as tattoos 20 or 30 years ago. :)

The Sagittarian said...

Not really a skull fan myself, I don't trust them with their all-seeing eyes and gap toothed grins, all smug like they know something we don't!! Great photos tho'...

Pat Tillett said...

That's amazing! Eerie and interesting at the same time. Makes you wonder...

louciao said...

Interesting how each has its own personality. Some are really quite jolly. But--ugh!--that partially decayed/mummified version totally creeps me out. As for the specimen all decked out in the glass case, well, obviously you can dress her up but you can't take her out. (I took photos of the Pericolo de Morte signs, too!)

Stickup Artist said...

As you know, there is a huge skull culture in SoCal between the Mexican Day of the Dead iconography, and the rock music industry t-shirts, tats, merch, etc. How can one not be fascinated? Skulls, with their eternal grins; mocking, the joke's on us, happy to be anywhere but here, who knows? Great post! The variety is astounding!

Laurie said...

Some of these skulls look positively unhealthy! Great collection, Owen!

Nathalie said...

Avant d'être poussière tu seras ossements. Quelle collection, cher Owen ! J'avoue que cela nous ramène au plus réaliste de notre condition humaine...

Roxana said...

ahahah- one of your favourite themes! :-) such a rich "prey" in Italy, i am amazed myself, what could possibly be the reason for this fascination? you have gathered an amazing collection, you should be both proud and happy :-)
here is an interesting link for further deepening of the topic, going from photography to engraving:

http://adventuresintheprinttrade.blogspot.ro/2008/09/dicing-with-death.html

bises

il angelo said...

well, patted minem to see if it was still there :D. Great collection. never seen one like the golden one on the door to some premises. totally far out.