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WHEN SKULLS ARE JOY | THE HISTORY OF AN IMMORTAL SYMBOL

Symbol par excellence of the vanitas, the skull is today considered a pop image, almost a funny character with a decoration function, almost suitable for almost every kind of setting.

The skull is one of the most powerful and old symbols of the human history: from the Aztecs rituals to the surrealism, from the Shakespearen theatre to the punk movement, the image of the skull is an integrating part of numerous cultures, ours included.

Fashion and jewellery have reproduced it many many times whilst the world of comics and tattoos has always seen it as a source of unquenchable inspiration.

That the skull belongs to our contemporary culture is a matter of fact, it is part of us and represents the story of mankind. Beyond the world of art and design and after Alexander McQueen, the British designer who first launched the skull in his collections, and the punk and goth style of another british designer, Vivienne Westwood, the skull has been the most recurring theme of all ages, sometimes even abused.

The skull has become part of our imagination and used in different fields with a dual meaning: on one side it is the image of the death, it represents our fears, it is the memory of the dead. On the other side it can be identified with our unconventionality and pure hedonism.

From the Jolly Roger flag (the famous black flag with skull and crossbones considered the standard design for a pirate flag), to the Mexican calaveras, the traditional sugar skulls of the Mexican culture, from the work “In Voluptas Mors” by Salvador Dalí, made in collaboration with photographer Philippe Halsman in 1951, up to Darth Vader’s skull-like helmet in the iconic Star Wars series: the skull reminds us to the impermanence of life, inviting us to live at our best. A concept very similar to the meaning behind the rock, punk and goth aesthetic.

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