The artists and works below have made a major impact on the art world and stood the test of time. Many of the artists themselves led fiercely original, enigmatic lives—challenging convention with every brushstroke. Some delved into the dark hearts of men and found there the uncompromising force of nature we call Satan. Some, like Hans Bellmer, elaborated on a Satanic theme of note (Artificial Human Companions). A few actually painted 'sacred' art for patrons or even by choice. (See 'Finding the Devil in Sacred Art' below) All are masters whose works are worthy of aesthetic appreciation—sure to set the Infernal imagination aflame. Following this timeless list, we've compiled a list of 'Dark, Occult & Recent Satanic Art' to include many of the diabolical suggestions we've received from Church of Satan members.
Satanic Art 101
Francis Bacon (1909-1992)
Screaming popes, perverse eroticism, and a raw, undefiled aesthestic that demonstrates that the beast in man does get some exercise from time to time.
Links: Frances Bacon Image Gallery
Edvard Munch (1863-1944)
While his “The Scream” may have inspired one too many blow up dolls and mousepads, other dark treats like “Madonna,” “Vampire,” and “The Sick Child” are not to be missed.
Links: Munch Museum
Goya enjoyed the spoils of royal favor as First Court Painter in Madrid for most of his life. For pleasure, he delved into the black depths of the human psyche with disturbing studies of madhouses and prisons. His enigmatic etchings and groundbraking “black paintings” are of particular note.
Links: Museo Prado (Image 1), Museo Prado (Image 2)
Gustav Doré (1832-1883)
Illustrated Milton’s “Paradise Lost” and Dante’s “Divine Comedy.”
Dore at ArtPassions
Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516)
A Surrealist before his time, Bosch's alternately grotesque and fantastic depictions of medieval life send the imagination into overdrive. His various “hellscapes,” like the one in his “Last Judgement,” and are essential visions of the Pit.
Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525-1569)
Links: Bruegel at Artchive
William Blake (1757-1827)
Poet/Writer, Illustrator & Painter
The uninitiated might be most familiar with Blake's 'The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun' through the first installment in the Hannibal Lecter film series (Red Dragon). A poignant starting point for the Satanist, to be sure, but this fiercely original and religiously rebellious thinker and illustrator offers a wealth of work so distinctive that it defies classification.
Links: Blake at Artchive
Odilon Redon (1840-1916)
Redon's pictures are very dark and full of stories. The link below shows a piece that was one in a series he created dedicated to Edgar Allan Poe. These lithographs do not illustrate Poe's work, but are instead 'visual poems.' In the link below, the piece is called “The Eye Like a Strange Balloon Mounts Toward Infinity.” The eye represents the eye of God but as opposed to the traditional form of the symbol (like on the back of a US dollar bill), Redon has an entire eyeball in the place of a hot-air balloon that drifts purposelessly through the sky.
Links: Redon at Artmagick
Jean-Jacques Feuchère (1807-1852)
Academic sculptor and friend to Baudelaire, his brooding “Satan” is both romantic and beastly.
Links: Feuchere's 'Satan' (LACMA)
His grotesque treatment and choice of religious subjects have caused many to speculate that he may have been a non-believer. In any case, the mercurial Caravaggio rebelled against the fashion of his times and bathed his subjects in a stark and evocative combination of darkness and light that often serves as the textbook example of chairoscuro.
Links: Caravaggio at Artchive, Webmuseum
Hans Bellmer (1902-1975)
A surrealist known for his hauntingly beautiful and strangely erotic drawings, etchings and photographs. His famous poupées (dolls), articulated female figurines, show a LaVeyan taste for Artifical Human Companions.
Links: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Dolls of Hans Bellmer
Felician Rops (1833-1998)
Obsessed with femmes fatales, this symbolist painted woman as Satan's accomplice—rendering man a mere puppet.
Links: Musee Felicien Rops, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Otto Dix (1862-1942)
His grotesque paintings depicting the his experiences in World War I evoke the horrorific nature of the beast we know as man. His less political works are darkly beautiful, and sure to please those enamoured with the 1920s and 30s.
Max Ernst (1891-1976)
Surrealist who painted almost Lovecraftian landscpes, a wonderfully grotesque “Temptation of St. Anthony” as well as some powerful images melding humans and birds.
Links: Ernst at Artchive
Reginald Marsh (1898-1954)
'Sketched and painted the most earthy, sweaty and lusty examples of humanity he could lay his eyes upon.'—Anton Szandor LaVey, The Devil's Notebook—'Erotic Crystallization Inertia'
Links: Marsh at Artchive
Luis Ricardo Falero (1851-1896)
'A Vision of Faust' or 'The Departure of the Witches.'
Links: Falero at Artmagick
George Grosz (1893-1959)
Earthy caricaturist who captured the beast in man.
Links: Grosz at Fine Art Museums of San Francisco
Ivan Allbright (1897-1983)
Dubbed the 'Magical Realist,' Albright is respoinsible for the dizzyingly morbid portraits of Wilde's Dorian Gray commissioned for the Hollywood film 'The Portrait of Dorian Gray.'
Links: Cegur.com, Traditional Fine Art Online
Salvador Dali (1904-1989)
Painter, Entrepreneur, Performance Artist, etc.
Dali created some of the most memorable psycho-sexual images from the Surrealist movement (the melting clocks) and even designed a dream sequence for Hitchcock’s “Spellbound.”
Links: Salvador Dali Museum (FL, US), Fundacio Gala-Salvador Dali
Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978)
The enigmatic stories behind de Chirico's paintings are a mystery even to the artist himself. Filled with symbols, one gets the feeling that every single object in the painting is an omen, a desperate warning that there is imminent danger, an urgent message that absolutely MUST get through, but has no way of being understood. The distorted perspective, placement of figures and objects, and choice of colors all add up to a feeling of uneasiness and helplessness for the viewer to behold and cherish. Di Chirico called these paintings 'metaphysical paintings.' He said of them, 'We who know the signs of the metaphysical alphabet are aware of the joy and the solitude which are enclosed by a portico, by the corner of a street, or even in a room, on the surface of a table, or between the sides of a box—the minutely accurate and prudently weighed use of surfaces and volumes constitutes the canon of the metaphysical aesthetic.'
De Chirico at Artchive
Paul Delvaux (1897-1994)
In contrast to the warm plains and desert wastelands made famous by fellow Surrealist Dali, Delvaux's dreamscapes and placid, wide-eyed nudes are often enveloped in velvety, moonlit night. See especially 'The Entombment,''The Sabbath,''Tribute to Jules Verne.'
Links: Delvaux at the Guggenheim, Delvaux Foundation & Museum
Franz von Stuck (1863-1928)
A symbolist painter whose entrancing femmes fatales are sure to appeal to witches and warlocks alike. “Fighting Fauns,” “Inferno” and “Sisyphus” may also appeal to darker tastes.
Links: Stuck at Artmagick, http://cgfa.sunsite.dk/stuck/index.html
Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)
Duchamp could be considered a Cubist, Surrealist, or perhaps most appropriately, a Dadaist. He never declared himself a member of any movement, making no alliances and often blurring the lines between movements. Duchamp's work can really only be considered a prime example of 'Question All Things.' Duchamp wrote his own epitaph, which probably best sums him up: 'D'ailleurs, c'est toujours les autres qui meurent.' ('Anyway, it's always other people who die.')
Links: Understanding Duchamp, Duchamp at Artchive
Henry Fuseli (1741-1825)
Demonic dreamscapes like 'The Nightmare,''The Night-Hag Visiting the Lapland Witches,' are sources of diabolical inspiration. Fuseli was apparently so taken with Milton’s Paradise Lost that he opened “The Milton Gallery” and devoted it to his works on this theme.
Links: Fuseli at Artmagick, Engravings after Fuseli’s Miltonian paintings
El Greco (1541-1614)
Known for his oddly elongated humans and strangely hued landscapes, his images were a personal, mystic vision.
Links: El Greco at Artchive
Aubrey Beardsley (1541-1614)
Famous for his sinuous and erotic renditions of scenes from the works of Oscar Wilde and covers for the notorious Yellow Book, his images were long considered the epitome of decadence.
Links: Beardsley at Artpassions
Giovanni Piranesi (1720-1778)
Architect, Print maker
His images of prison galleries with bizarre architecture and impossible geometry inspired many to come later in their depiction of desolate interiors.
Links: Piranesi at Artchive
Associate of the notorious Sir Francis Dashwood (of 'Hellfire Club' infamy), Hogarth produced such diabolical classics as 'The Rake's Progress” series.
Links: Hogarth at Artchive, Hogarth at Artcylclopedia
Finding the Devil in Sacred Art
Some may balk when it is suggested that art intended to express 'sacred' themes might be considered Satanic. It seems an obvious contradiction. Some artists in the list above even claimed to be fervently religious, either in a traditionally pious or in a more convenient, abstract sense. Art may communicate, and surely art is the expression of the artist's intent—otherwise it's merely accident. However, as viewers, our appreciation of art transcends the artist's original intent. We naturally project our own experiences, our own perceptions; we are free to impose or discover 'meaning.'
Satan is the King of this World. He permeates all facets of life, and his carnal laws apply to every man and woman and beast of the field. This, of course, includes devout religionists of all flavors. Evidence of the Beast in man is perhaps most striking in the pious man. The carnal nature of man is woven through the history and dogma of every religion on earth, even (and often especially) where it is most vehemently denied. As sure as you'll find masturbation in a monastery, you'll find Satan in sacred art. So, it may behoove you to take some time to explore sacred art as you would the art of obvious heretics.
In Mexican and medieval Catholic devotional art you'll find a perverse fixation on the macabre, with all the vivid gore and trappings of a modern horror film. In the Italian Renaissance, sensuality and appreciation for the human body eclipsed generic religious frameworks. Purient fantasies abound in later art, from the lascivious 'Lot and His Daughters' to the homo-erotic depictions of Saint Sebastian; even the scantily clad Christ that hangs in nearly every Catholic church today.
Holy men and those in their employ may endeavor to illustrate their parables; to glorify their Saints. However, the brush remains a tool in the hand of Man. He may aspire to Heaven, but in the end, he knows only Satan.
Dark, Occult & Recent Satanic Art
Macabre and horrific sequential artists. Sensual and Evocative 'Fantasy' artists. Hell-bent contemporary artists of note. 20th Century outsider art. Limp tentatively into the alley and push through the creaking, rusted metal door into a damp, alien corridor. Ignore the gibbering insects of unseemly size and unfamiliar origin. This is your introduction to an underworld of Satanic art.
H.R. Giger (born 1940)
Designer, Painter, Sculptor
Few artists have achieved such complete and uncompromising realization of their darkest, most “alien” fantasies. Even fewer have been able to sucessfully parlay these fantasies into commercial success. As further evidence of a Satanic Age...H.R. Giger's own museum and various “Giger Bars” scattered across the globe are described, on the artist's own web site, as “total environments.”
Links: H.R. Giger Official Site
Robert Crumb (born 1943)
Crumb is considered the grandfather of the Underground Comix (the 'x' was intended to set the Underground scene apart, as well as emphasize 'X-Rated') scene, which began in the late 60s. His Comix depicted things that other people just didn't dare draw before him, including incest, rape, murder, and racial stereotypes. Despite his usually dark subject matter, the Art was usually drawn in a cartoony, fun style, which helped add to the contrast (and controversy). Throughout the late 60s and early 70s, many cartoonists were copying Crumb's style, which lead to his style becoming synonymous with the era.
Links: Crumb Products, Crumb Museum
Odd Nerdrum (born 1944)
Dark and full of symbolism. He has created some paintings that are a true incarnation of fear. A de facto-Satanist in the way he taught himself how to paint in a classical style, during a time when classical Art was frowned upon. No school would teach it to him because 'modern' Art was all the rage. So, he set about his own journey.
Links: Odd Nerdrum Official Site
'Ghastly' Graham Ingles (1915-1991)
Works of Note: Worked for the now-infamous EC Comics, the company that published the classic Horror Comics of the 1950s. Ingles earned his nickname for taking horror comics to an innovative extreme.
Links: EC Art
Henry Darger (1892-1973)
Henry Darger was not a Satanist. He was not a de facto Satanist. He was a dishwasher and was likely insane. His uniquely twisted artwork was created in isolation during his life, yet propelled him to significant recognition in death.
Links: Realm of the Unreal, American Folk Art Museum
Andres Serrano (born 1950)
Andres Serrano's 'Piss Christ' stirred up a lot of controversy in the late 1980s and helped to spark a national debate between fierce religionists and supporters of freedom of expression, especially with regards to the public funding of 'offensive' art. (an age old debate, to be sure). Serrano creates images in which things that are generally considered opposites come together. The vulgar and the refined, the hideous and the attractive—all become synonymous. This concept is considered a nefarious imposition to the Postmodern art world, but has evolved from an aesthetic that has been used by artists since the Baroque era. Serrano, speaking of his art: 'In my work I always seek the unusual, or at least what is not traditionally considered beautiful. In my work I try to find the normal in the strange and vice-versa.'
Links: Realm of the Unreal, American Folk Art Museum
Mark Ryden (born 1963)
Unsettlingly innocent, playfully macabre.
Links: Mark Ryden
Coop (born 1968)
Painter, Poster Artist
Church of Satan Magister Coop is everywhere! His full-figured Devil Girls have conquered a legion of fans.
Timothy Patrick Butler (born 1968)
Painter, Illustrator, Print Maker, Web Designer
Butler has produced an amazing array of elaborate creatures both fantastic and grotesque, as well as having written a guide to them that elucidates and obfuscates simulateneously.
Links: Weird Art
Stephen Kasner (born 1970)
Painter, Print Maker
Kasner creates moody renditions of subtly mutated images which can disturb as one strives to resolve their essence.
Links: Stephen Kasner
Joe Coleman (born 1955)
A misanthropic painter whose images are wrought with astonishing detail. Coleman chronicles the dark side of the human animal, often explored through his own torturous journey through life.
Links: Joe Coleman
Bill Ward (1919-1998)
The “King of Glamour Girl Art.”
Links: Bill Ward Official Site
Robert Williams (born 1937)
Comic Artist, Painter
Springing from the Custom Car Culture and underground comics, Williams has evolved into what might be called a psychedelic Surrealist.
Links: I’d Rather Be Dead Than Mellow, Robert Williams at Lines on Paper
Marion Peck (born 1963)
Creepy, sexy, pretty weird. Worth a peek.
Links: Marion Peck
Dark, a little 'carny' and exquisitely rendered. This artist is so perfectly self-satisfied and self serving that he profoundly dislikes parting with his paintings at all—though a few have escaped into prestigious private collections.
Links: Hussar Exhibitions
Mary Ellen Mark (born mid 1940s')
Considered a “humanist” but often known for disturbing imagery.
Links: Mary Ellen Mark Official Site
Jan Saudek (born 1935)
Links: Jan Saudek Official Site
Matthew Barney (born 1967)
Nancy Spector's introduction to the Cremaster Cycle book reads 'Only The Perverse Fanstasy Can Still Save Us.' Indeed. Barney's exploration of the artistic impulse, mythological archetypes and less obvious peculiarities of male sexuality draw him into the realm of the revolutionary and occult. If you look closely enough, there are nods to Satanic symbolism to be found in his strange and visually stunning work.
Links: Barney at the Guggenheim
Frank Frazetta (born 1928)
One of the guiding lights of the genre of fantasy art in the 20th Century.
Links: Frank Frazetta's Official Site
Boris Vallejo (born 1940s')
Began with Frazetta-inspired imagery, but soon found his own erotic vision which has a broad fan base.
Bernie Wrightson (born 1948)
Considered a Horror legend, not many comicbook artists have captured the macabre like Wrightson. He is probably most well known for his work on Swamp Thing, which he co-created.
Links: Official Site
Edward Gorey (1925-2000)
Perhaps most famous for his 'Gashlycrumb Tinies.' His pen and ink illustrations always capture a delightfully macabre perspective.
Links: Edward Gorey House
'Sailor Jerry' Collins (prime activity in the 1940s)
Long before sorority girls started getting 'cute' tattoos, real sailors were getting inked in classic style by 'Sailor Jerry.' This guy is 'The Real McCoy.'
Hannes Bok (1914-1964)
Considered a 'bad boy' in the Pulp Comics era, Bok lost many commissions due to his unwillingness to allow Editors to tell him what he could and could not do. Many of his drawings were considered very taboo for the time period, not only costing him commissions but friendships as well. But despite his unruly attitude toward his bosses and the atmosphere of his art, Bok created almost 150 covers and illustrated hundreds of drawings for Pulp magazines. Aside from his outstanding artwork, Bok was also an author and an astrologer.
Virgil Finlay (1914-1971)
Finlay was very good at many drawing techniques. His stippling added depth and mood to his fantastic subject matter, and was so good that it almost didn't make it into the Pulps. The reason being because it was uncertain if the cheap pulp paper that the Pulps were printed on would be able to show the level of skill and detail that were in Finlay's originals. But fortunately for hundreds of impending fans, a test print showed that enough of the detail in the originals pulled through to show that Finlay's art was that of a technical genius. He had hundreds of fans, including H.P. Lovecraft who not only wrote Finlay fan letters, but also composed a poem about Finlay's art.
Links: Biography, Virgil Finlay Illustrated
Sidney H. Sime (1867-1942)
Sime's art always had a wonderfully dark atmosphere, whether it was in the art itself or in the subject matter of the piece. He quickly gained notoriety for this dark art and began receiving commissions for many art magazines of his day.
Links: Biography, Illustrator of Fantasy, Dunsany Illustrations