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Nightmare Fuel / Art

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One of Giger's concept art images for Poltergeist II: The Other Side

A list with haunting, scary paintings, sculptures and other visual art works.

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  • Many Egyptian mural paintings have an eerie look to them. The people depicted are 2D drawings, sure, but there's always one eye staring at you.

    Middle Ages 

    Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo 

    Romanticism and Symbolism 

    Impressionism, Expressionism, Fauvism, Cubism 


    Asian traditional art 

    Art photography 
  • The photographs of Diane Arbus show a lot of photos of circus freaks, twins, triplets, handicapped people or unusual men and women that border to the Uncanny Valley. Even when she shot normal scenes inside amusement parks or the interior of a room with a Christmas tree there's still a haunting atmosphere about them.
  • The photograph posted on the hide page. It is a still photograph, and yet people who have viewed that photograph have noted that they feel as if it is staring at them, or have noticed the eyes moving. This is due to an optical illusion of depth in the way the photograph is set up (his eyes look more deeply set/more prominent due to the lighting and makeup, and if your eyes move in the right way, his appear to move with them due to this) but to anyone unaware of the optical illusion involved, it can seem ghostly...

  • Franz Xaver Messerschmidt's Karakterköpfe which shows dozens of expressive facial expressions made into sculptures.
  • The sculpture Fucking Hell by Jake and Dinos Chapman shows hundreds of tiny puppets all in a symbolic depiction of the worst crimes mankind has ever committed.
  • This memorial sand sculpture of Michael Jackson (RIP).
  • Edward Kienholz's State Hospital depicts a naked, emaciated figure, with a fishbowl instead of a head, strapped to a filthy bunk bed with a leather belt. Above his head, surrounded by a neon speech bubble, is an identical figure — implying that mental illness and medical mistreatment have limited the bottom figure's thoughts and identity to his grim reality. Perhaps the most nightmarish aspect of the sculpture is the fact that it was inspired by a patient at the psychiatric hospital where Kienholz worked as an orderly.
  • Louise Bourgeois' Maman, depicting a lanky, otherwordly-looking Giant Spider carrying a sack full of its own eggs. Bourgeois has done other arachnid-themed pieces as well.

  • Even without the obligatory "curse" backstory, "The Hands Resist Him" by Bill Stoneham is pretty damn creepy.
  • The painting "The Crying Boy" has several copies and several of them have survived house fires without any damage done to them. This led many people to think that it was "cursed".
  • Anything, anything, anything by H. R. Giger, the lovely man who brought you the look of the Xenomorphs in Alien. The fact that his art is inspired by his literal nightmares does not help. For those who are unfamiliar with his work.
    • Giger tells the story of how a customs official once asked if his paintings were photographs. He commented that the only place you could take a photograph that looked like one of his paintings would be in Hell...
    • Even more chilling is how Timothy Leary, one of Giger's friends, described his work: "Giger's work disturbs us, spooks us, because of its enormous evolutionary time span. It shows us, all too clearly, where we come from and where we are going."
  • The drawings of Paul Rumsey all show haunting Body Horror images, made in dramatic black and white.
  • Ivan Albright specializes in creepy paintings, most notably "That Which I Should Have Done I Did Not Do (The Door)" and his version of "The Painting of Dorian Gray".
  • Anything and everything by Zdzisław Beksiński. His works feature copious amounts of thoroughly creepy imagery, including deformed figures, dystopian landscapes, apocalyptic themes, sexual imagery, violence, death, and general weirdness, all drawn in a disturbing degree of detail. Interestingly, the man himself was by all accounts very cheerful and pleasant.
  • The late Dr. Jack Kevorkian was a painter in his spare time. Yes, they were creepy. Quite a few were inspired by illnesses; this one was inspired by paraplegia.
  • The work Of Ken Currie also haunts viewers.
  • Tony Oursler projects people's faces, often intoning disturbing dialogue, onto the heads of small dummy dolls. The whole face ones are creepy enough, but he also likes to do the same for things like this. It's particularly chilling seeing them in action on YouTube. * shudder*
  • Laurie Lipton has done so much weird, creepy and downright scary art. Someone clawing a wall full of faces while a joyful person dances next to them. People eating in a TV room MADE OF faces, skulls, and reaching arms. A toddler with a knife and a freaky gleeful grin, waiting for their mom. Screaming heads flooding out of a music box held by a blank-staring doll. And that's not even the most fucked-up of it. Here's a link to her website
  • The art of Keith Thompson is characterized by unbelievable amounts of Body Horror, Squick and general creepiness. His "Undead" series are probably the worst - in particular, for the love of God do not look at his Pripyat Beast!
    • He actually made a book on how to draw the undead.
  • Neil Blevins's horror-ish pieces are rare, but they are major. One, "Alternative Birth", has a bundle of wires/feelers coming out of someone's belly. This triangle-shaped Cacodemon's mouth is lined with eyes and full of pointy teeth. And this is a giant, floating mass of tentacles full of glowing eyes. Blevins gallery link
  • The "Transfiguration" artistic performances, by French painter and performer Olivier de Sagazan, is focused on a man altering himself his face, several times. In truly Nightmare Face ways.
  • This picture used to be the page graphic of the main Nightmare Fuel page until people complained. The picture is a composite of this picture and this one, both of which are also Photoshopped and both of which are plenty scary on their own.
  • Tetsuya Ishida, surrealist Japanese artist. Some of the disturbing images include someone climbing out of a lizard's guts, and sauce smeared on people's faces and hands that looks like blood. If you think surrealist paintings are scary by themselves, you'll find these worse. If you don't, you'll find some of these scary anyway.
    • In case anyone was wondering, he is absolutely not to be confused with Tatsuya Ishida of Sinfest fame. Name's almost the same, but their styles are about as different as night and day.
  • Art about Holocaust. Especially scary as it is often Based on a True Story of survivors...
    • In similar vein, Nikolai Getman's paintings of his time in Stalin's Gulag, in particular his horrifying "Punishment by Mosquitoes."
  • Vann Nath's paintings of Cambodia's infamous Tuol Sleng prison are all the more horrific because he witnessed them all. Nath was one of seven people to survive Tuol Sleng—because his talents as a painter made him useful to the Khmer Rouge, who hired him to produce propaganda for them. After the Khmer Rouge regime fell, Nath painted what he remembered.
  • All of the paintings here are creepy in still-life form, but check them out animated. There's something both beautiful and unnerving about it.
  • Paul Cadmus's work was normally of the homoerotic variety, celebrating the male form in a seemingly wholesome style of painting. His Seven Deadly Sins series, however, was the opposite of wholesome or celebratory, and was downright disturbing. Rounding the corner at the Metropolitan Museum or Art and seeing these paintings might just stamp the nightmare imagery into the brain for the rest of the day at the very least.
  • The de Young Museum in San Francisco has exhibits that feature art, sculptures, and artifacts from all over the world. This includes the works of the Asmat people of Papua New Guinea. The collection of masks and reliquaries that adorn real skulls is simultaneously beautiful and creepy.
  • Tom Lea's painting The 2,000 Yard Stare, currently the Thousand-Yard Stare trope image. Made to depict the events of the Battle of Peleliu, the painting pretty accurately captures the nature of war, and damn if it isn't creepy as hell. The empty stare in the soldier's eyes pretty much drains any sort of humanity from him, making him seem more like a thing than a person.
  • A lot of the imagery in the films of Rachel Mclean, which doesn't so much exist in the Uncanny Valley as drill right through it and come out the other side of the Earth.


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