The New England Grimpendium: Jack Kevorkian Paintings

For the next month, I’ll be posting photo essays on locations, attractions, and artifacts elaborated on in my new book, The New England Grimpendium (available now) to celebrate its debut...and to convince you that it’s worth buying, I guess. That was directed at you, Mom.

[Note: As you can tell by the date, I published this photo essay months before the rest of the New England Grimpendium photo essays. I did that to coincide with the premier of an HBO movie based on Kevorkian's life.]

April 24, 2010 — Besides being an assisted suicide proponent, Jack Kevorkian, the man known to most of us as Dr. Death, has been known to drop the scythe every once in a while and try his hand at art, often of the macabre variety. I was fortunate enough to be granted private access to his collection of original paintings that are these days kept in the vaults of the Armenian Library and Museum of America in Watertown, MA (Kevorkian's parents were Armenian refugees). I’ll skip the rest of the commentary and just let his works scream for themselves.

I'll need to do a whole article on ALMA itself at some point.

 A Very Still Life

Nearer My God to Thee 

For He Is Raised and Fa La La La La - La La - La La 


The Gourmet (On War) 

The mixed media piece 1915 Genocide 1945 incorporates actual blood in the paint. Often reported as Kevorkian's own blood, I was told that it was just anonymous blood he was able to procure using his connections as a doctor.

This is what you look like when you have a Fever 


Much thanks to the curator at ALMA, Gary Lind-Sinanian, who went through the trouble of pulling these out of storage for me to gawk at with my hand on my chin.

Read about my visit to see Jack Kevorkian's paintings in The New England Grimpendium, which is on sale now.


  1. Dude... Sick, yet creative and very impressive attention to detail. Although one might be inclined to believe that because the painter was a notorious... suicide helper his paintings provide insight into his deranged psyche, I see it another way. Insight into his psyche it is, though. Buy they doesn't necessarily prove he was deranged. When I started looking at these paintings as if I didn't know the painter, I saw a person with very good knowledge of not just anatomy, but medicine trying to make statements. Some political, some religious, some medical. Although I don't get the vampire in Brotherhood. Are they extreme? Do they push the envelope a little too much? Aren't they kind of sick? Is Marylyn Manson or Eminem sick?

  2. the salvador dali of the 2000s

  3. "...I don't get the vampire in Brotherhood."
    No matter what color skin, we all bleed red.

  4. I originally thought this post would discuss paintings with Dr. Kevorkian as the subject. Who knew he was such an artist?

  5. For those interested:

  6. I believe that as both a doctor and an artist, he had a very unique perspective. Imagine the suffering he saw. People whose bodies were the very cause of their misery. I find "Paralysis" to be the most striking example of this. I don't believe that it was an obsession with death that drove him, but instead compassion.

  7. Kevorkian was held at the prison where my dad works, i always just thought he was a sick bastard...and he is. but MAN can he paint or what?

  8. "The Gourmet" is interesting. With over half of every tax dollar going to the military industrial complex, are we not cannibalizing ourselves. That's what that painting says to me.

  9. I guess I was on the mark with my interpretation of that painting (The Gourmet). I found this interpretation from the artist himself:

    About this particular painting, Kevorkian says, “What is war? Is it a soldier dying, or guns, or bombs, or crosses, or weeping mothers, or sport, or patriotism, or valor, or high paying jobs? What is war? Not hell. For that is merely evil. War is worse than evil. It is mind-boggling suicide –mass suicide– with humankind devouring or trying to devour itself. In vain attemps to assuage some sort of weird, innate (and apparently insatiable) appetite nurtured by our true and beloved God, Mars, we will not settle for less than the “flower of evolution” as the main course, embellished by bountiful side dishes and fanciful shakers filled with the “fruits” of our marvelous hands and big starving brains. How long will we persist in this lethal nonsense? How long before we really believe that salvation lies not in an insane paradox fostered by brute and selfish gluttony, but in the far more “nutritious” and healthful viand in the sadly neglected garden of human compassion and understanding? Considering the status of brotherhood today, possibly too long.”

  10. mi nombre es Gonzalo y soy de Argentina me parece que el hombre es un artista excelente y un aferrimo de sus convicciones

  11. mi mail es

  12. Anyone who thinks assisted suicide is evil needs their moral compass examined. What's evil is the ludicrous mask of morality allowing someone to decay before their mind's eye and telling them that they have no choice to decide on their own terms what is best for them.

  13. Speaking of examining one's moral compass, why you can obtain some more background on Kevorkian and what his ultimate goals were - not too far removed from what went on in Nazi Germany. For example:

  14. If these are not the paintings of a psychotic man I'll donate some blood for him or his followers to continue his work.

  15. i think the brotherhood one is man in society wearing his casualities of psychological cannabalism ironicly as a coat. And the vampire is the real state of man. Maybe.

  16. Anonymous said...

    "Speaking of examining one's moral compass, why you can obtain some more background on Kevorkian and what his ultimate goals were - not too far removed from what went on in Nazi Germany. For example:"

    Perhaps the real question is who's "moral compass" you are going to use. "The Weekly Standard" probably has one of the most flawed one on the planet. It has been funded by such moral "leaders" as Rupert Murdoch. Before deciding if you are going to give any credence at all to the link offerred in this posting, you might want to read the following link which describes who and what "The Weekly Standard" are and stand for. And really, equating Kevorkian's wish to allow people to make a decision as to when they wish to end their long suffering with the horrific acts of the Nazis, takes a real leap of logic.

    1. One needn't even go that far. Just read the byline of the article:

      "Wesley J. Smith, an attorney for the International Anti-Euthanasia Task Force, is the author of Forced Exit: The Slippery Slope From Assisted Suicide to Legalized Murder (Times Books)"