Memento Mori Paintings: Paul Cézanne

Memento mori (Latin: "remember that you have to die") is the medieval Latin Christian theory and practice of reflection on mortality, especially as a means of considering the vanity of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits. In art, the memento mori is used to  remind the viewer of their mortality and of the shortness and fragility of human life. 

Below, a handful of Paul Cézanne's gorgeous paintings containing the classic memento mori- the skull.  

Unsurprisingly, the objects and colors of Cézanne's studio reflect his canvases.

An image from  Cézanne’s studio  in Aix-en-Provence.

An image from Cézanne’s studio in Aix-en-Provence.

The study of gray is not something we often think about in the works of most modern artists. Perhaps the pointillists were the last to study the ways in which color aggregated to form grays in the shadows beneath tables, under sun bonnets, in the dappled light of trellises or on city pavements. As I walked around Cézanne’s studio, I noticed that light bouncing up from the warm wooden flooring tinted the gray nearest it with rose and that under the shelves the light caromed back and forth between wall and shelf, carrying the subtle tones of whatever was nearby. These extremely delicate gradations were everywhere visible to me in the overall grayness and made me realize that we too often simply accept a generalized idea about the colors in our visual surround.

-Excerpted from Cézanne’s Objects by Joel Meyerowitz. Copyright © 2017. Reprinted with the permission of Damiani. All rights reserved.

For more information on Paul Cézanne, Artsy's page provides visitors with Cézanne's bio, over 170 of his works, exclusive articles, and up-to-date Cézanne exhibition listings.

The Way We Dress: Style to the End

Avril Furness asks women of all ages what they want to be buried in in her video for Nowness while traveling through the oven rooms at Mortlake Crematorium, the hearse garages at Harrison Funeral Home, and a fresh grave site at Green Acres Natural Burial Ground.

Cashmere socks

A black jumpsuit, some Prada leopard killer heels, and some gold cuffs for my wrists

Relinquish entire control- give it up to someone else to decide

I want to look good. I think we all go to some crazy party and I want to be looking my best

What do you choose for your final look?

Diamonds are Forever, (and Now You Can Be Too!)

        If you don’t want your ashes spread along a favorite location or stored for decades on a relatives mantel, then why not be memorialized in a truly unique and timeless way… as a diamond!  Cremation ash can now be turned into high-quality diamonds.  Yes, the 4 Cs still apply, you can choose the cut, carat, color and clarity of this special gem. You can even choose to be a brilliant diamond in different colors. I MEAN, who doesn’t want to be a 5 carat, flawless, vivid yellow diamond? This service isn’t only reserved for people, you can turn your pet's ashes  into diamonds as well.

        According to Eterneva, the process “starts with a tiny, crystallized diamond seed, a purified carbon source, and a metal growth catalyst. They place these ingredients between the anvils of our powerful hydraulic press, and apply over 1,200 degrees C of heat and over 50,000 atmospheres of pressure. As the temperature and pressure mount, the metal catalyst melts into a molten solution, and the carbon dissolves into it. With great care and control, they cool the solution, and one by one, the carbon atoms build on top of the crystal diamond seed, growing it into a jewelry-grade diamond.”

         You can also plan ahead through sites like LifeGem and create unique diamonds for each person in your family. What better way to celebrate a loved ones life than to become a family heirloom that can be passed from generation to generation—a truly special diamond.


Bansho-ji Temple

Each tiny blue glowing Buddha covering the walls of Bansho-ji Temple's third floor represents one of the deceased. Visitors located their passed loved one with an electronic ID card which turns the blue buddha to gold. The effect is a chillingly beautiful tribute to an increasingly solitary population.

These innovative temples are becoming more popular in Japan where low fertility rates leave fewer young people to care for the aging and fund a traditional burials (which can cost thousands more). 

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Going Out in Style + Harper's BAZAAR WTFashion Video

Going Out in Style created William Graper's ultimate funeral for Harper's Bazaar

Roses provided by Harvest Wholesale 

Going Out In Style wardrobe by Shopbop  and Cynthia Rowley

Performance by Well Strung

Going Out In Style Jewelry by Oscar de la Renta 

Gloves provided by Wing and Weft Gloves

Furniture provided by Michele Varian 

Props provided by Form Vintage  and  The Green Vase 

Gift Bag - Black Edge Matt Paper Carrier Bag 

Candle Dyptique Thomas Maier old Montauk Highway 

Going Out In Style makeup by Susie Sobol Makeup 

And thank you Green-Wood Cemetery

Reinventing Death with Color

At Going Out in Style we think that death and loss can be celebrated many ways... with beauty, style, and even joy. That's why we so admire the work of I&S BBDO for funeral home Nishinihon Tenrei in Japan. 

It is traditional that Japanese funerals be dark, somber, and colorless and any deviation is considered taboo. But after the devastating 2011 Tohoki earthquake and tsunami, Nishinihon Tenrei decided it was time to celebrate the cycle of life with color. The result was this beautiful and award-winning campaign. 

And may all of our skeletons dissolve into flowers...

(via Spoon & Tamago)

This Is How I Want To Be Dead

Beyond the familiar “green burial” business of escaping the toxic culture of the conventional death industry, what appeals to author Richard Conniff (and a growing number of people) is the idea of using the cost of burials to buy and preserve undeveloped land. "Natural burial grounds" or "forest cemeteries" tend to look less like cemeteries and more like fields and woods, with walking trails.

"I doubt that I put it in so many words at the time, but the thought has lately come back to me: This is how I want to be dead. That is, in the woods, with wild things all around."

Op-ed in the July 7, 2017 New York Times, read it here.


Death Dinner Parties Part 2

Death Over Dinner brilliantly opens up conversations about death over dinner. Their survey helps you set up the conversation based on guests and intention and even provides recommended reading and listening before the party. 

Not only is Death Over Dinner a fantastic and effective tool for important conversations, the site is beautiful, clean, and simple. 

Go Out With a Bang!

What's your dream memorial ceremony?

Companies such as Heavens Above  and Heavenly Stars Fireworks and Ashes to Ashes provide amazing and unique memorial displays. They offer a variety of services for scattering ashes of yourself or a loved one by incorporating cremation ash into fireworks. Depending on your wishes, you can have a professionally launched display or choose from a wide array of self fired rockets. We love the idea of being sent off in style with a firework spectacular to be remembered by; literally going out with a bang.

Death Dinner Parties Part 1

Strangers coming together to talk about grief and loss over a beautiful meal... this is our kind of dinner party at Going Out in Style.

The Dinner Party takes fear and taboo out of the conversation and creates an environment that facilitates #lifeafterloss. They hope that one day young people who have experienced loss are recognized not as objects of pity, but as better listeners and better leaders, characterized by profound empathy, resilience, and agency. 

Their mission- To transform life after loss from an isolating experience into one marked by community support, candid conversation, and forward movement. 


Photograph by Sarah Cusimano Miles