Give me Hell!
March 8, 2011 11:05 AM   Subscribe

I love artistic depictions of Hell or hellish places. Hieronymous Bosch, for example, or Paul Weber for a more modern one. What are some other works of art or artists who regularly illustrate the bowels of Hades? Also, is there a name for this particular theme of art?

Any medium is interesting to me for this one. Not just traditional paintings or drawings.
posted by katillathehun to Media & Arts (26 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
He's not a regular, but there is Rodin's Gates of Hell.
posted by goethean at 11:12 AM on March 8, 2011

William Blake's illustrations for the Divine Comedy are sort of the gold standard for depictions of Hell (well, Dante's literary version of Hell, anyway).
posted by The World Famous at 11:14 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Gustave Dore's illustrations for the Divine Comedy are also really awesome.
posted by The World Famous at 11:15 AM on March 8, 2011

While not know for being an artist, Dr. Jack Kevorkian who use to perform end of life for chronically/terminally ill people has some excellent art in this realm.
Not necessarily hell, but of a dark theme most of the time representing personal hells and death. I personally love his work (both artistic/irl).
posted by handbanana at 11:16 AM on March 8, 2011

Wayne Barlowe has a couple books to this effect.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 11:19 AM on March 8, 2011

Zdzislaw Beksinki was somewhat of an internet celebrity around six or seven years ago -- I don't know if his paintings explicitly depict Hell, but it sure looks like it to me.
posted by theodolite at 11:21 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

There's always Jack Chick, though his art is invariably wed to his fundamentalist moralizing.
posted by johnofjack at 11:22 AM on March 8, 2011

Seconding Beksinki.
posted by Jairus at 11:27 AM on March 8, 2011

If you want depictions of hell you should check out the comic book world. You should check out some issues of Lobo, The Demon, Hellboy, Hellblazer, Spawn, Sandman, etc.

Article here listing 5 interesting comic depictions of hell.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:29 AM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm not sure if he every did a painting of hell, per se, but Goya's later work is pretty hellish. Check out, in particular, the Black Paintings.
posted by steambadger at 11:37 AM on March 8, 2011

Beksiński's art can certainly be hellish, but none of it is explicitly of "the" Hell. Though he was notoriously averse to explaining his work, so who knows.
posted by Zozo at 12:13 PM on March 8, 2011

The Hell from What Dreams May Come was visually interesting: wraith-haunted tempests, burning shipwrecks, fields of faces, upside-down cathedrals, etc.

If you don't mind being disgusted, the recent video game Dante's Inferno had some pretty grotesque depictions of the underworld based on The Divine Comedy -- rivers of excrement, walking teratomas, sadistic torture of every kind. Of course, if you have any respect for Alighieri at all, you'll be more offended by how they turned his epic poetry into a crappy God of War clone.

For more traditional fare, Jan van Eyck's The Last Judgment is very creepy, especially the bug-eyed monstrosities he uses to devour the damned. And this isn't Hell precisely, but The Great Day of His Wrath by John Martin is impressive for the sheer scale of the destruction it imagines.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:14 PM on March 8, 2011

Giotto in Italy.
posted by shaarog at 1:32 PM on March 8, 2011

H.R. Giger is more into nightmarish-landscapes and monsters in a sci-fi or dream setting than ancient-religion-setting but might interest you (and religious images like Baphomet pop up occasionally).
posted by K.P. at 2:57 PM on March 8, 2011

The History of Hell is a good book full of these images
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:00 PM on March 8, 2011

oops, actually meant to link to this one.
posted by K.P. at 3:06 PM on March 8, 2011

Albrecht Dürer! His woodcuts/engravings often depict Death and the Devil, but also terrifying monsters and suffering. Check these frightening hellscapes out.
posted by missmary6 at 4:19 PM on March 8, 2011

Salvador Dali did a bunch of paintings based on The Divine Comedy
posted by JohntheContrarian at 4:48 PM on March 8, 2011

The Jade Calendar
posted by unliteral at 5:00 PM on March 8, 2011

Marco Brambilla's Civilization. It was at the Dumbo arts festival last year. (Scroll to the far right to see the video).
posted by hooray at 6:06 PM on March 8, 2011

I can't find a link, but there's a scene about three quarters of the way through the film The Hurt Locker, in which the explosives technicians investigate a nighttime petrol tanker explosion. The darkness, flames, destruction, and wailing souls make me think the filmmaker wants to tell us, "this is Hell."
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 6:41 PM on March 8, 2011

Jake and Dinos' sculpture Hell was destroyed in a warehouse fire in 2004, so they made another one called Fucking Hell.
posted by hot soup girl at 9:07 PM on March 8, 2011

I like Mur Lafferty's "Heaven" podiobook series. They go to Hell in book 2 and there's an exceptionally good part in... either 3 or 4, I think, in which the beurocracy which runs Hell is explained. It's very referential and jumps around between a lot of different depictions of hell, or the afterlife in general, in different cultures and religions.

For a more visual depiction, there's the Bugs Bunny version of hell. I'm also a big fan of Futurama's robot hell.
posted by NoraReed at 9:15 PM on March 8, 2011

Wayne Barlowe's Inferno
posted by Harry at 1:40 AM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

John Martin's "The Great Day of His Wrath" is suitably infernal...
posted by Rufus T. Firefly at 2:35 PM on March 9, 2011

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