Conversation Piece

Which Skull Are You? This Modern-Day Vanitas Will Send Shivers Down Your Funny Bone

Which Skull Are You? This Modern-Day Vanitas Will Send Shivers Down Your Funny Bone
Guy Richards Smit's Hard Worker, 2015

Here's everything you need to know to appreciate the schadenfreude of Guy Richards Smit's comical skull portraits.

1. An acid-witted prankster who has shown his work everywhere from MoMA to the European biennial circuit, Guy Richards Smit uses his art as a stiletto to deflate pomposity wherever he sees it—even in the classic tradition of memento mori. 

2. Rife with gallows humor, these artworks are part of Smit’s “Mountain of Skulls” series (exhibited at L.A.’s Charles James Gallery), which arose from his ambition to create a village’s worth of ironic skulls following a visit to an ossuary in Slovakia.

3. Ranging from watercolors to paintings, these hapless noggins poke mordant fun at our little peccadillos and other (transient) personality traits, making for a modern-day vanities that cuts close to the bone of the contemporary art lover—but, hey, ars longa, vita brevis.

4. A performance artist as well as a painter, the artist has also won over audiences through his alter-ego of Jonathan Grossmalerman (something like “big painting guy” in German), a video sensation who mocks everyone in the art world, particularly David Salle.



a treasure trove of fine art from the world's most renowned artists, galleries, museums and cultural institutions. We offer exclusive works you can't find anywhere else.


through exclusive content featuring art news, collecting guides, and interviews with artists, dealers, collectors, curators and influencers.


authentic artworks from across the globe. Collecting with us means you're helping to sustain creative culture and supporting organizations that are making the world a better place.


with our art advisors for buying advice or to help you find the art that's perfect for you. We have the resources to find works that suit your needs.


Artspace offers you authentic, exclusive works from world-renowned artists, galleries, museums and cultural institutions. Collecting with us helps support creative culture while bringing you art news, interviews and access to global art resources.