Art of Suicide (Reaktion Books - Picturing History)
Brown tracks the changes surrounding the perception of suicide into the pivotal Romantic era, with its notions of the "man of feeling", ready to hurl himself into the abyss over a woman or an unfinishable poem. After the First World War, the meaning of death and attitudes towards suicide changed radically, and in time this led to its decriminalization. The 20th century in fact witnessed a growing ambivalence towards suicidal acts, which today are widely regarded either as expressions of a death-wish or as cries for help. Brown concludes with Warhol's picture of Marilyn Monroe and the videos taken by the notorious Dr Kevorkian.
10). The defeated gladiator supports his sinking body on one hand, one leg is outstretched, his shield is discarded to his left and his head hangs down. Round his neck is a rope. Winckelmann’s claim that the rope around the neck was a strategy used by heralds to prevent burst blood vessels may be relevant, but it is a curious attribute in this case. The Ludovisi Gaul, as it is often referred to, depicts a man who 33 9 A Gaul Slaying Himself and His Wife, Roman copy after a Greek original of the
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peripheries of otherness. The absence of a named author and 93 ‘The Suicide’s Grave’, Plate 1 from The Suicide: A Tale found on Facts, by the Author of ‘The Red Barn’ (London, 1820). 179 artist heightens the unintelligibility and connotations of suicide, and the disagreement over who or what is to blame. The sad tale that is told of Percival Denham is not directly linked to the paratextual image, but leaves the grave open for anyone. The story is prefixed by mystery but, in contrast, the tale
countered by the suicides of impotent men who thought themselves to have failed sexually. In the 1860s and 70s there was also much discussion about male masturbation, which was thought to lead to insanity and death; though this too was a view challenged by medical practitioners. The evidence suggests that the artist’s brush remained still on both these issues. Yet death was given a differing aspect in discourses on masturbation where a petit mort is connoted. It is curious that within a few
these images of death were highly valued by Philostratos. It is not clear at this point if the method and the motive were consciously interconnected, though for Philostratos hanging clearly had feminine connotations. Thus, it appears that even before the emblematic suicide of Judas, hanging was regarded as a bad, faint-hearted, or ‘feminine’ death. From the beginning of suicide’s representation, however, there is some evidence of a structural disagreement between good and bad deaths that depended