Friday 7 July 2017

Books; The Bizarre and Beautiful: 'Demons: Visions of Evil in Art'

Recently, I decided to begin some blog posts paying tribute to something I value incredibly highly in life; books. Over the years books have shaped me, my knowledge and my artwork. So it felt fitting to pay homage to some of my favourite books in my collection and give them the recognition they deserve ...

For a number of years 'Demons: Visions of Evil in Art' has been one of the most important books in my collection. It has virtually been my bible, being carried across continents and often a permanent feature in my bag. It has been an important resource for information and inspiration on a number of different projects, and is often my go to guide on a manner of matters from Demons themselves to infernal and apocalyptic artwork in general. This book is an excellent introduction to Demons in religious artwork and representations of evil, sin and death throughout art history. It gave me a good base knowledge on Demons and the large number of artworks featured means that the book contains a wealth of reference material from various cultures and periods in history. The book would certainly provide anybody interested with a more than adequate introduction to the darker side of religious art and to many important artists within the genre, such as Hieronymous Bosch, Fra Angelico and Gustarve Dore.

The book more than adequately outlines the religious background and context needed to fully understand the in depth history and origins of these devilish demons. Christian theology is largely the focus of the book, and when is comes to subjects such as damnation, sin, apocalypse, death, punishment and hell, no stone is left un-turned. The illustrations range over a huge time period and in many different forms and media, from early woodblocks, frescos, illuminated manuscripts and altar pieces to epic oils, masterpieces by the great masters, etchings, sculpture, architecture and much more. 

My favourite thing about 'Demons: Visions of Evil in Art' is just how far it goes beyond the surface of Demons in art. In the modern world you'd be forgiven for thinking immediately of a kitsch halloween costume depiction of the devil, but in reality the depiction of demons is both ancient and complex, having virtually its own artistic genre, with different periods is history presenting manifestations of evil in a different way. 
Historically imagery was the main method of communication to the masses, as many were illiterate and unable to read religious texts themselves. The visual communication of the church was a hugely important part of early Christianity. Representing evil as a truly terrifying thing was absolutely essential. Imagery needed to instil fear and insight obedience, as it was accessible to all and the best method of propaganda to live a virtuous life.These Hellish visions live on today, as reminders of a time when fact and fantasy were blurred and the Religious landscape of the world was far different to today.

'Demons: Visions of Evil in Art' provides a fantastic insight into a world where beasts and Demons awaited to torture you for every misdemeanor, death stalked and waited around every corner to cut your existence short with some plague or pestilence and penance to God was every mans only hope of salvation from sin ...

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