Work of Art


Title: Inferno

Artist: Franz Von Stuck

Completion Date: 1908

Style: Symbolism

Genre: religious painting

Out of all the Symbolist painters, Franz Von Stuck (1863-1928) produced enigmatic, occultist works that surpassed canvases by many of his colleagues. In our own decadent, sensitized age, Stuck’s works are often regrettably relegated to museum subcellars and provincial galleries. The Metropolitan Museum of Art owns only two Stuck bronzes and neither are currently on display. Museum curators simply do not know what to do with Franz Von Stuck. Gallery directors prefer to ignore Symbolism, present Impressionism as the only radical break from Academicism and simply showcase those canonical Manets and Renoirs which university students and the ‘ladies who lunch’ pay entrance fees to see. Stuck unnerves such unreflective sightseers by confronting them with nightmarish visions and shrouded glimpses of dreams yet to come.

Stuck invited his viewers into dark tableaus of Orphic shadows and Eleusinian initiatory ordeals. His painting Inferno rendered an extraordinary panaroma of the damned writhing in eternal torment. A syphilitic whore with a death’s head stands stiffly on the left while a demon readies to suckle at her withered teat. Two muscled figures sit doubled up in agony at the scene’s center. On the right, a venomous serpent coils itself around two damned souls. Stuck used ophidian imagery repeatedly in his paintings and this particular Hydra wildly sibilates as it crushes its victims. Backlit with fiery igneous rock, Stuck focused light on each damned soul so as to detail every facet of their agony. Inferno successfully depicts an arresting scene of chthonian grotesques for its viewers. As a worthy successor to Hieronymous Bosch’s extraordinary imagination, Franz Von Stuck rightly deserves reappraisal for his remarkable vision.

About Peter Sayles

Peter Sayles ist eine junge rechtsextremistischem und glühender New Englander