Art and Illness

28 February, 2012

I’m sorry for the vast silence on this blog these latest couple of weeks but got some nasty virus and have had people here visiting. Today is the first day for a long time in which I have felt like I could walk without dying. The illness! That is something that could be discussed though. The aesthetics of illness and sickness in art. There’s a lot to find here guys! Just think of all the TB and dying that’s been going on in literature, paintings, film, theatre, photography etc. etc. Crime and Punishment comes to mind. I cannot unfortunately say that I’ve read it. I read half in school and found it utterly boring. I want to give it another chance but all I remember is him being ill and lying in bed coughing an awful lot. Yes we get it, your guilt is getting you ill. Get on with it!


Another wonderful illness piece of art is “The Sick Child” by Edward Munch. There is true pain in this piece of art. Not as much in the child but with what I assume is the mother who sits by the child’s bed with her face hidden as she cannot look up. The child looks upon the mother with concern and love. Such a powerful painting. The way Munch has sort of scratched the painting to life is amazing. My dad pointed this out and made me look closer at it when we saw one of the four copies at Nationalmuseum in Stockholm a few years ago. Go up and stare at it up close if you ever get the chance to see it in real life. It’s beautiful.

Illness in art can be seen as a 19th century thing if one just looks at what I have mentioned. There is so much more however. Illness is one of our greatest fears and what is art for if not to deal with this? We promise to love the one we marry through sickness and in health. We spend endless amounts of money on medicine and insurance. We fear sickness because we fear death. Illness is almost something shameful, something that is supposed to be hidden away. Not in art though, we deal with it there. What are your favorites?

P.S. I could whistle with my nose this morning. If that isn’t art then what is? D.S.


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