The “Death of Jim Morrison” and the French Revolution

Multimedia artist Don Williams reinterpreted David’s painting for the 20th anniversary of Jim’s death.

Located in the Museum of Modern Art in Brussels, the painting The Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis David depicts the radical journalist Jean-Paul Marat lying dead in his bath on July 13, 1793. Accusing Marat for having instigated the Reign of Terror, Charlotte Corday stabbed him while he was taking a bath to remedy a skin disease. There was no one better than his friend David to depict this dramatic event.

Below Don discusses his inspiration and points out some interesting details that he included that make this work a clever twist on one of the most famous paintings from the French Revolution.

Artist bio

“I created the artwork while learning how to illustrate in scratchboard in college. I had a library book on the works of Jacques-Louis David from a previous art project and came across The Death Of Marat painting. All I could think of was Jim Morrison of The Doors, found dead in a bathtub in Paris, taking into account that 1991 was the 20th anniversary of Jim’s death, followed by Esquire magazine articles on the anniversary and that of Oliver Stone’s movie The Doors which came out that same year.

The poetry on the piece of paper is one of Jim’s poems entitled ‘The Opening Of The Trunk’. I had friends of mine and other art students ‘vandalize’ the wooden crate he writes on in the picture just like the vandalism surrounding Jim’s grave.” — Don Williams

The Opening of the Trunk

Moment of inner freedom
when the mind is opened and the
infinite universe revealed
& the soul is left to wander
dazed & confus’d searching
here & there for teachers & friends.
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One thought on “The “Death of Jim Morrison” and the French Revolution

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  1. The irony and symbolism of Jim dying in a bath in Paris… Jim had been a devotee of playwright Antonin Artaud whose “Theater of Cruelty” heavily inspired the 1964 Broadway production of the play, “Marat/Sade”, and whose ideas influenced Morrison’s stage performances. An American offshoot of Artaud’s troupe called “The Living Theatre” opened in L.A. in February ’69 and their final show, “Paradise Now!”, also profoundly affected Jim. Before his death, Jim went to see another avant-garde play in Paris, “Le regard du sourd” by American playwright Robert Wilson–himself a follower of Artaud–which became a landmark in contemporary theater.
    “Is everybody in?… WAKE UP!!!”
    –Phil Steele



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