Underneath all of our anxiety, our food and gun hoarding, is The Grim Reaper, his insistent trod, scythe in hand, plucking souls as he goes. It’s what none of us say aloud: you or I could be next. We have always known it was in our future, vague, general, but way, way out there in the future. Now our reckoning may be around the corner. We aren’t worried about getting sick any more than we are about getting a cold. We’re afraid we might die! Dead. Over. Gone.
One of my favorite little books I studied endlessly as an art student was Hans Holbein’s Dance of Death, a series of woodblock prints. It is a marvel of drawing and composition illustrating Death’s harvest at every level of the social order. No one is exempt.
I was so inspired I started my own series, the studies are lost somewhere in a pile of old sketchbooks. Then I forgot about it until now. Like all art, Holbein’s work remains timeless, waiting for us when we’re ready and scared to death.