Guido de Pascale, produces terracotta skulls in Italian vanitas style which became popular in the 17th century. Vanitas artworks reflect the fragility of man and represent his relationship with an ever-nearing death.



Guido de Pascale (b. 1959) is an Italian contemporary artist whose works comment on changing notions of temporality and the human condition. Pascale’s terracotta neo-vanitas pieces, such as Skull (2015), invite the viewer into a dialectic between past and present, evoking both the tension and coherence between individual and universal experience. The artist’s reinventions of the vanitas piece- a style which became popular in the seventeenth century as a reminder of man’s mortality- speak to the fast-changing relationship of modern man with tradition, and with death. Both the subject and and the idiosyncratic choice of medium, in the technical detail and striking realism of the terracotta, imbue the work with a conscious sense of anachronism; thus, Pascale comments subtly on the processes of mediatization which have distanced the modern viewer from nature, and from death, in the centuries since the inception of the vanitas. By reminding his audience of both the universal and timeless nature of man’s confrontation of mortality in art, and the increasing detachment of modern society from such awareness, Pascale encapsulates the paradoxical tension between the self and the collective, the present and the past, which is at the heart of the vanitas style.