Norbert Bisky’s Youths with Decapitated Heads (2006-08)

The theme of an executioner with a decapitated head as a visual metaphor for a painter holding his own self-portrait has been in near-constant use since the Renaissance. Even today, a German artist, Norbert Bisky, portrays modern youths in the same manner while continuing to use the names of David and Judith, both biblical executioners, in their titles. However, in making the decapitated head resemble the executioner more clearly than many artists did in the Renaissance, the idea that “every painter paints himself” becomes more self-evident. The multi-colored splotches of water or blood are also made to look so thick that they resemble bursts of paint. The knives, as so often happens in art by poetic painters, represent brushes though, as knives, they carry the added symbolism of rational thought slicing through or penetrating through the unconscious.

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Gallery poster using Bisky, David (2006)

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Bisky, Alaska Judith (2006)

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Bisky, Aufmacher (2008)

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See related examples by Giorgione, Artemisia Gentileschi and others.

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Notes:

Original Publication Date on EPPH: 20 Apr 2010. © Simon Abrahams. Articles on this site are the copyright of Simon Abrahams. To use copyrighted material in print or other media for purposes beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. Websites may link to this page without permission (please do) but may not reproduce the material on their own site without crediting Simon Abrahams and EPPH.