Art and Violence: Is There a Correlation?

Art is not always about eye-catching landscape paintings and romantic portraits, nor is it only meant to celebrate lifelong love and sing odes to joy and happiness. There is a markedly different side of art, less bright and generally disquieting. Art has always been a reflection of human nature, and it is not a surprise that themes of violence and cruelty are depicted by the painters pretty often, to say the least. Because of such a grim and yet realistic side of art, many would call it unacceptable in contemporary society. But what is the real correlation between art and violence?

Violence, either physical or emotional, is condemned by every society governed by universal morality and law. However, it does not mean that we live in the perfect world. The fires of war are still ablaze, while never-ending problems are tearing societies apart. Where does evil come from, and where does it go? These questions can be answered with art, especially violent art.

Art and violence have been coexisting since people lived in caves. Though the style has changed over the centuries, the purpose is the same: to show how violent reality is. From Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights” to Francisco Goya’s Black Paintings, from Renaissance Art to contemporary art, the question of violence is raised repeatedly. It is worth noting that sometimes aggressive art is the product of an unstable mind of a creator, but most of the time, it is the artist’s intention to demonstrate how broken the social reality and world can be.

Fear is a great motivator, and yet people almost always hide it deep inside. The artist may become an intermediary between the violent world and the homely atmosphere of your comfort zone. Unfortunately, violence exists, no matter whether someone accepts it or not. In this context, art does not become a tool of violence but rather its revealer. The next time you see grotesquely violent art, ask yourself whether it is you or reality that makes it look so violent.

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