Contributed by Joanne Caputo
Halloween is America’s annual foray into costumes, masks and trick-or-treats. We may not remember its roots as “All Hallows’ Eve” (“holy evening”), which precedes All Saints Day and All Souls Day for remembering the dead. During these special days, the recently departed “who have yet to reach Heaven” receive special prayers, and as far back as the 15th century, children went door-to-door offering prayers in exchange for sweet “soul cakes.” The departed were also believed to wander the earth until All Saints’ Day, making All Hallows’ Eve their last opportunity to seek vengeance on the living. For protection from being recognized and targeted, people wore costumes or masks.
Our Halloween outfits are often fun and disturbing. Equally enjoyable are works from select artists who have moved us with their “grotesque” forms. Francis Bacon (1909-92), best known for his idiosyncratic approach to the human figure, produced somber yet striking art, like “Study for Self Portrait” (at right) following the suicide death of his lover.
In 2013 Bacon’s “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” set the world record as the most expensive piece of art sold at auction to date (the $142 million feat was later surpassed by Picasso art):