“It’s the home of someone of color, and you’re not supposed to really be able to know that,” renowned collector and curator Racquel Chevremont, who put together the art for the set of Leave the World Behind, tells AD. “But as the story goes on, you realize, if you look back at it, there were these hints throughout the home.” Pieces by legendary Black artists, including Glenn Ligon, Torkwase Dyson, and Julie Mehretu, were chosen because Chevremont and set decorator David Schlesinger (of Knives Out and John Wick chapters two and three) agreed that the Scott family’s art “shouldn’t be representational or figurative art; it should be abstract,” Chevremont says. “We also wanted the artwork to signify [G.H.’s] stature and the family’s wealth, so the pieces were by very well-known artists and were not inexpensive.”

The entryway of the Scott home. A Barthélémy Toguo artwork hangs on the wall near the door, functioning as the audience watching on and judging the Sandfords silently.

Photo: JoJo Whilden/Netflix

They operate as wordless side characters, adding tension in the background at every turn. A section of Barthélémy Toguo’s Talking to the Moon stares the Sandfords down in the entryway upon their initial encounter with the Scotts, during which Amanda is painfully hesitant to allow them past the threshold. “It’s like they’re being watched and judged,” Schlesinger says. “That’s the audience, basically, watching them.” While the bright eyes of the Toguo painting command some attention, the house’s other artwork plays subtler roles.

In the early moments of their time in the rental home, the Ligon piece feels reminiscent of a Holter monitor denoting a somewhat regular heart rate as the family is at relative ease.

Photo: JoJo Whilden/Netflix

When the televisions go out, the chaos in the painting increases and combines with the static of the off-air television to create a feeling of a control room that has lost all signal.

Photo: JoJo Whilden/Netflix

As the feeling of impending doom and total loss of connection to the outside world looms, the final iteration of the Ligon painting is the most frenetic of all.

Photo: JoJo Whilden/Netflix

In the living room, three Ligon pieces silently ramp up the anxiety from their place on the wall as the signs of impending disaster—among them, loud unexplained screeching sounds, planes crash landing onto the shore, and exotic animals wandering onto the grounds out of nowhere—coalesce into an undeniable Armageddon. “If you go back and take a look at it, [the artwork on the living room wall] changes—a lot of people, I think, might miss that,” Chevremont says. “That staticky, chaotic feeling increases as the film goes on.”

Increasing the atmosphere of anxiety via changing art through the film’s progression was a technique the team employed upstairs as well. “We did the same thing in the bedroom with the wallpaper, which is a seascape,” Schlesinger says. “Early in the movie it’s very calm. By the end, it’s total roaring waves.”

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