Human skull, facing right, shaded with black lines on a white background; a red cord is strung between several screws; a large, circular section is missing from the top of the skull and a line stretches from the forehead to the back of the skull, indicating the separation of the cranium from the lower half of the skull; A piece of tape is affixed to the forehead and several words are inscribed on the skull: LATERAL.
Throughout her career, Beth Van Hoesen’s work remained out-of-step with contemporary artistic trends. Her rigorous drawing practice and focus on representational imagery instead recalls earlier traditions of draftsmanship in Northern Europe. Van Hoesen’s subjects are sometimes conventional, including flowers, animals, and nudes, and at other times more unusual and macabre, such as in her abundant imagery of medical and catacomb skulls. Although Van Hoesen’s work is not religious, skulls have held a prominent place in Christian art since the Middle Ages, where they are used as a “reminder of death” (memento mori) to warn against vice, such as in Hendrick Andriessen’s Vanitas Still Life.
-Jaime Pagana, Curatorial Assistant, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum (Dec. 2016)
Link to share this object record: