Curious about some of the weirdest art pieces the world has to offer? Well, then you’re in the right place! We’re going to be breaking down the 5 STRANGEST artworks ever created.
Art is weird. Art is wonderful. But when art is weird it’s, well, really weird… sometimes downright unsettling and, in some cases, quite humorous. There’s a recurring theme with strange art and that’s it either wants to make you rip your eyeballs out from the sheer uncomfort it makes you feel or makes you do a double take, leaving you asking yourself ‘am I seeing this right?’. It’s a form of expression, creativity, that comes directly from a person’s mind - it grants you the ability to see the world through the artist’s eyes and that can get… dark.
The Ugly Duchess (1513) - Quinten Massys
Let’s start off this list with something a little less… unsettling. The Ugly Duchess is an oil painting created in 1513 by artist Quinten Massys. If you’re anything like me, at first glance you were caught off guard; I had to pause for a second to really take it in. But, as you know, to every painting there’s a story!
For decades this strange piece was mistaken as art created to mock the elderly and their fading beauty as they age. The woman pictured is dressed in clothes that were seen as quite scandalous back in the day - she is depicted in a low-cut bodice that reveals her chest and is holding a rosebud in her right hand, which in itself has links to sexual themes that I won’t state… we’re keeping it PG here on the Artful blog! Some have even said that her head piece represents horns, suggesting she is some sort of aged temptress but I’m not sure if I see that one myself.
However, scientists have since debunked the rumours that this painting is at all meant to be a poke at our beloved OAP’s and their ‘unattractiveness’ and instead what I can only describe as the total wrong end of the stick. After a recent investigation, it has been revealed that this poor woman in the painting, you know, the same lady who was called ‘the ugly duchess’ was in the advanced stages of an illness called Paget’s disease - a disease that, according to the NHS, is a fairly common condition that disrupts the normal cycle of bone renewal, causing bones to become weakened and possibly deformed. Talk about cruel!
Lobster Telephone (1936) - Salvador Dali
When I think of strange art I think of two words. Lobster. Phone. Lobster Phone. Now, I know what you’re thinking, ‘what the fu-’. Let me explain. The surrealist movement in the 1920s and 30s revolved around the idea that revolutions begin in dreams and was hugely inspired by Sigmund Freud, neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis, and his theories. The goal of any surrealist was to create art which came from the unconscious and, for that reason, we saw a lot of downright weird art originate from that period - Salvador Dali’s Lobster Telephone is certainly no exception to that! Dali combined two existing objects that ‘spoke to him’ - now brace yourselves for this next part - he believed telephones to be sinister messengers from ‘beyond’ and lobsters he found to be quite… sexual. Yes, sexual. How sexual? I don’t know. I’m reading the room and I’m assuming you’re as uncomfortable as me right now… unless, that is, you also have a lobster kink… let’s move on!
The Garden of Earthly Delights (c. 1505) - Hieronymus Bosch
We’ve spoken about this painting before and I’ll talk about it a million times more. I love this painting. This oil painting was created around 1505 by Hieronymus Bosch, it’s a painting that gets weirder the longer you look at it and that’s what I love most about it. From those riding the strange swan-lion chimera, to the unusual egg-like objects on the ground and then, of course, you have what looks like Bosch’s depiction of Hell on the far right which represents pure chaos with the sheer amount going on within it - everything about this piece is downright strange.
Magdalena Ventura with Her Husband and Son (1631) - Jusepe de Ribera
When you first look at this painting, you might feel a little, well, confused but the story behind this one is incredible! The painting depicts two, what you might think are, men with one breastfeeding a child… strange, right? Not really! All truly is not what it seems with this one. The person on the right is actually a woman, more specifically Abruzzi’s Bearded Woman!
When I first read about this painting, I honestly felt refreshed seeing the portrayal of gender flexibility so early on, 1631 might I remind you. Magdelena was renown for the way in which she defied the beauty standard during the Renaissance era, and for this reason she became a celebrity in Italy. She is pictured breastfeeding, highlighting that her autonomy is wholly female yet her strong physique and full beard tricks your mind to thinking otherwise. Everything down to her clothes is entirely gender neutral and I find that a truly wonderful concept!
The Vegetable Gardener (1590) - Giuseppe Arcimboldo
Arcimboldo’s work differs greatly from art pieces that came from the same time period, the Renaissance era to be specific, although it is said that people during that time frame were hugely interested in riddles, mysteries and all things strange so perhaps that’s where his inspiration was sparked from.
His oil painting ‘The Vegetable Gardener’ is, in short, almost unsettling. I don’t know about you but I always get a sinking feeling when I notice something that was right in front of my eyes all that time. At a first look, this painting seems to depict a bowl of veggies, turn it 180 degrees and you’ll see something entirely different. A terrifying vegetable monster, or in more professional words, a face of a man cleverly made through the positioning of vegetables. It is said that the meaning behind this piece is to reflect the average gardener's tasks. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am super creeped out by it but the concept is truly incredible and so smart!
With that, we’ve come to an end of our list of the 5 STRANGEST artworks ever created. Which piece was your favourite? We post an artsy blog like this one every month, so be sure to watch out for what’s to come and, if you enjoyed this one, check our page for more blogs just like this one!