Life After DeathLife is full of questions, but one we can never seem to all a agree upon is:Where we are going. What is coming after this life? What does death really entail? No one really knows the answer. In order to know it, it seems we would have to go there ourselves. Different religions and cultures have come to various conclusions. Artists through out time and the world have worked to solve this very answer through imagery. Whether they understood what is beyond this world and cosmos is for each individual to decide. But one this is for sure, they all have something to offer: an insight into the eyes mind and reveal an occult world beyond our own imaginations.

Casper David Friedrich. Landscape with Grave and Owl (1836-7) Sepia (17x20.4cm)

Friedrich makes an allegory of death and what is to come afterwords. He shows this through blunt symbolism and imagery. The coffin represents death and the owl of the kowledge of the afterlife. This is one of his later works and it shows the Fatalist nature he develops in his old age. His pesimistic outlook on life is evident through the drab depressing monotone color and the distilled nature envoking death. Friedrich is unsure of what is to come, but shows no fear. He merely questions the future as he draws closer to his ultimate death.

Nicholas Abraham Abildgaard. Malvina Mourning the Dead Oscar (1790)Oil (62x78cm)
This is a very narrative piece. It tells the story of how Oscar dies and comes back to see his mother. The moon shows the occult mystisism that takes place here. The dramatic organic motions of their bodies also show the unnatural and spiritual aspect of the event. This shows that death goes not olny mean the entrance into a new world. It can also mean the the lingering in this world without a vessle in which to live due to unfinished business.
Andre Mantegna. St. Sebastian (1459) Tempra on Panel

This is a typical peice for the time period and the artist but if you take a closer look you will see there is more to it. In the late 13th century everyone would have known that this was an image of St. Sabastian because the symbol of the arrows; this identifies his his matyrdom at the hand of the arrow in the name of Christ. However his death is not the end of the story. The clouds in the background revels the image of a unicorn (to the left) alluding to his promise of addmittence into Heaven for his obiedence to the Lord. This is also reinforced by his expression of angish as he looks to the sky for heavenly salvation from his bodily pain.

Judgement of Hunefer before Osiris, illustration from the Book of the Dead. Dynasty 19 (B.C. 1285) Painted Papryus(39.8cm)

This an image from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. These were often used to decorate the tombs of the deaceased to show the story of the deceased as he enters the afterlife. In Ancient Egyptian mythology there are different levels of the afterlife. Only the Pharoahs and their wives were permited into the highest form of "heaven". Despite the class seperation everyone must go through the test of the Weighing of the Hearts. This image shows this proccess. In the first image on the second register, his heart is weighed against Matt's (the goddess of Truth) feather and is found to wiegh the same he has proven himself as a good person and has appeased the gods. He then goes with Osiris, the god of the Dead, to the after life where his ka, spirit, will live in peice and esctacy.
Hieronymus Bosch. Ascent of the Blessed

This is one of Hieronymus's more positive peices. He is known for his grotesque, bizzare images of Heaven and Hell. In this image those that have followed the Will of the Lord ascend to Heaven through the classic image of "the light at the end of the tunnel". God is often described as a Heavenly light that can not be viewed by the human eye. So we can only imagine the anticapation of the Blessed feel as the Lord is waits at the other side to meet His children in the promised Paradise. We can even see the angel in the foreground help the deceased reach the Pearly Gates. The man has his hand folded in pentenate prayer as he prepares to meet his savior.

Richard Kelly. Donnie Darko. (Oct. 26, 2001)Color Film
This is a very "different" film. It was obviously not made for the single purpose of entertaianment. It alludes to the mystery the future holds. The movie is a constant change of time. It tells the story of how Donnie learns about the occult of time travel. He recieves a book that leads him on a crazy journey in time to only find himself at the beginning the end of the movie. The only difference is now he knows what is to come. In order to avoid the enevitable death of his girlfriend, Grechen, he allows himself to die in order to stop the collision of events that would then follow. This shows that whether alive or dead Donnie affects the world. This is a story of death and the journey after death, the journey of moving on and the pepetual continuation of this cylce. Donnie dies, but his legacy continues through the lives of his loved ones.
William Blake. Antaeus Setting Down Dante and Virgil in the Last Circle of Hell. (1920) Pen and Watercolor

This is a illistration for the classic satire The Divine Comedy written by Dante. This is an image from his journey through the last circle of Hell. Here, Virgil and Dante recieve help from the kind giant Antaeus. He reaches over to lead them to safety to save them from his brutal brothers. This is certainly a work of fiction but a lot of accurate myth and religion were included in the story. The Divine Comedy was written as a commentary on the politics, culture, and misgiving of the church. It was a great controvercy in its time but by the time William Blake developed this piece it was a well accepted classical piece of literature. Like Dante, Blake included mythology in his art and writing. The only difference is Blake believed his to be a true religion.

Coatliae. Aztec skirt of snakes. Andesite (13th-18th cen.) (8x31/4)

This is an Aztec mother goddess of life, death, and rebirth. She has a necklace is made of skulls, hands, and most importantly human hearts. Human heart was considered the most worhty organ to sacrifice to the gods. Her head is made of two serpents flowing from her necklace. She is an interesting character because she controls both life and death. She gave life to all the gods and deities, but she is also responsible for the death of every human. She is most often depicted as a ceramonial item of worship. Most statues hold the same stagnic pose and include the same imagery. She was goddess to both fear and love, but above all, to respect.

Michelangelo. The Last Judgement. The Sistine Chapel. (x)Fresco

Most everyone knows the image of The Creation in the Sistine Chapel, but that is not the only capivating peice in this brilliantly decorated church. The Last Judgement shows the image of angish of the depraved souls decending into Hell juxtaposed by the delighted souls ascending to Heaven. In the center is the image of God. Here he is seperating the sinners from the well behaved souls. It looks as though many of the dead are shocked and distraute to find themselves being dragged down to Hell by demons. The middle of the fresco shows the living as they struggle to stand the tests of morality placed before them. It is these tests that will determine were they will end up in the next life: Heaven or Hell. This peice is a warning to all viewers to stay penetent and listen to God or else they shall live for eternity at the mercy of the Devil where not even God can rescue them.

This is a scroll from Japan that shows there reasoning for morality and the consiquences of thier actions. Each scroll depicts an image of each level of Hell, much like in Dante's Inferno. In this image these men are being persecuted and tortured for there vanity by the angered gods.

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"Illustrations to Dante." 1999 National Gallery of Virtoria, June 8, 2008. <>.</span>