The Folklore of Haunted Art

The saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” is one that we have heard said in regards to famous photographs.  Whether they are sad, depressing, joyous, shocking, the more you stare, the more you come to your own conclusions.  But what if you were wrong?  What if you saw a painting and thought it was just an expression of a tortured artist only to find out that the painting has killed?  Could that even be possible?  Join us as we take a look at two of the most notorious paintings known for the chaos they sow.

painting 2The first painting we are looking at today is known as the Anguished Man.  The most disturbing thing about this painting isn’t the image itself — though the image is quite unsettling.  In fact, it was discovered that the artist had mixed his own blood into the paint as he had worked, committing suicide shortly after.  Ever since, every owner of this painting has complained of shadow figures, pets becoming distressed at unseen things and even at the painting itself, and even sounds of crying that, after being investigated, have no source.  Current owner Sean Robinson keeps it safely locked away, though you can find his YouTube channel in which he has posted videos of the creepy occurrences happening within his home.

The second painting is a bit more well known.  Titled, The Hands Resist Him by Bill painting 1Stoneham, the painting depicts a young boy standing in front of a window, a doll in the shape of a young girl beside him, with what appears to be clawing hands pawing at the glass of the window trying to get to the boy.  Originally painted as a way for the artist to deal with his adoption, the painting hung in an art gallery until it was sold in 1974.  However, ten years after this purchase, the buyer, the owner of the gallery, and an art critic who had written an article about the painting, all died.  That is not the end of the story, however.  Eventually, the painting resurfaced.  On eBay.  The terrified seller claims that the figures in the art come to life at night, while some people who view it claim to have physical illnesses or even blackouts.  Though there is no need to fear, for the painting was eventually bought by another art gallery where they keep it locked away.

These two paintings are just examples of countless of other haunted paintings that are scattered around the world.  And while the artist of the Anguished Man remains a mystery, we can at least hear what Bill Stoneham says about his own haunted painting, which makes his a bit unique.  According to Stoneham,

“When I painted the Hands Resist Him in 1972, I used an old photo of myself at age five in a Chicago apartment. The hands are the ‘other lives.’ The glass door, that thin veil between waking and dreaming. The girl/doll is the imagined companion, or guide through this realm. Both the owner of the Gallery where ‘Hands’ was displayed and the Los Angeles Times art critic who reviewed my show were dead within a year of the show.  I’m sure it was coincidence, but some of what I paint resonates in other people, opening the inner door. Or basement.”

So the question is, what do you believe?  Can an ordinary painting become haunted because of memories and feelings and emotions?  Or are we left to view only paintings such as Anguished Man as an exception due to its dark history?  Is there such a thing as a cursed piece of art?  Or is it all mere coincidence?


For more reading on these and other haunted paintings (sources):

This ‘haunted’ painting has been terrifying people for decades

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