In 1854 Thomas de Quincey concluded his book "The Murder Considered
as One of the Fine Arts", with a passage in which an alleged member of
a secret society, speaking in the first person, discusses the purpose of
the organisation, and some cases of crimes which are interpreted as a
strange and disturbing art form.
It is most likely that the secret society that de Quincey described never existed, but the definition of its
hypothetical existence and the subsequent method to analise crimes from an aesthetic point of view, make it an
The so-called Count of Lautréamont, was a French poet from the mid 19th century who produced a book of
poems called "Songs of Maldoror", (1869) which has been considered a pivotal work, concerning the evil of a
shadowy hero, while Charles Baudelaire, was known as the accursed poet, about whom the French writer Denis
Huisman referred to as satanic in his book "L'esthétique" (1954).
Just as these poets have been abhorred, because the object of their art is dark, they have also been idolised
for the integrity of their work and for the emotional aesthetic produced by their verses.
In Mike Newell's film "The Mona Lisa Smile"(2003), the teacher shows a painting by the Russian painter Chaim
Soutine called "Piece of Beef" (1925), showing a crude and bloody ox-carcass. An interesting dialogue develops
within the film about goodness in art. This example could not be more appropriate since Soutine was using dead
animals as models for his painting. His paintings, a mixture of Van Gogh and Chagall with Fauvist colours,
made him a peintre maudit "cursed painter". Jean Cassou described his art as "a mental earthquake". It seems
ironic, but Rembrandt also painted a "Piece of Beef" in 1655 and apparently did not cause so much discomfort.
There is no doubt that observers of art are an active part of the work, as their reactions determine the
knowledge we have of the works.
Several other artists were practitioners of this kind of dark art, like Edgar Alan Poe, Tomasso Marinetti,
Charles Bukowski, and many more, including no less irreverent personalities, such as the Marquis de Sade and
Rasputin (the mad monk), who each made their contributions to European art.
People are usually interested in crime news. This reveals that there is an unmet need from the point of view
of marketing. There is a commercial incentive for print, TV, cable and radio stations to provide such
information. The best story turns out to be the literal reconstitution of a crime. It can be seen as a moral
act about which we should know or a human interest story even when it is not particularly newsworthy
From this social reality crime journalism has been born, also known as "crónica roja" ("red news")
in Latin America. In crime journalism, the specific dark deeds and the conflict with morality are not as
important as the form or process that generates them. There is a gory interest in knowing about the murderer's
procedure and the state of mutilation of the victim.
People approach the story with caution, but with avid interest. It will be generally agreed that the crime
is awful, but they will return to read about the next case with the same avid interest.