10 crazy artists: famous names of great creators

The Sabbat of the Witches, Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes
The Sabbat of the Witches, Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes. 10 crazy artists

10 crazy artists: Francisco de Goya

Francisco Goya is undoubtedly one of the most prominent representatives of romanticism, although the painter’s state of mind can hardly be called normal. At the age of 47, the master was paralyzed: Goya recovered, but deafness became an eternal companion. No official diagnoses were made for Goya, but his work, especially at the end of his life, involuntarily suggests that the artist was devoured by some inner demons, he suffered from depression (tragedy and suffering can be traced in a huge number of canvases).

Francisco Goya. The painting Saturn devouring his son, 1819-1823
Francisco Goya. The painting Saturn devouring his son, 1819-1823. 10 crazy artists

For example, in “Self-portrait with Dr. Arieta” in 1820, strange faces in the background, according to certain experts, became a reflection of visions from the nightmares that tormented Francisco. Some researchers attribute mental illness to the fact that the artists of that time abused the use of white lead, gradually poisoning themselves.

Alexander Ivanov. Priam asking Achilles for the body of Hector, 1824
Alexander Ivanov. Priam asking Achilles for the body of Hector, 1824

Alexander Ivanov

The author of The Appearance of Christ to the People, for whom, by the way, a separate hall was built in the Tretyakov Gallery, suffered from persecution mania, lived in isolation, suspecting everyone of trying to poison him. Even Italy, where he spent 20 years of his life working on a monumental painting, did not like him at all.

In his memoirs, Turgenev, who arrived in Italy and ended up with Alexander Andreevich Ivanov for lunch, describes the depressing impression that the artist made during a personal meeting. He was afraid to go not only to restaurants because of the fear of poisoning, but even to visit friends, he ate bread and eggs. He died of cholera in 1858 in St. Petersburg after the “Appearance of Christ” was presented to the general public.

Pavel Fedotov. Painting Breakfast of an aristocrat, 1849
Pavel Fedotov. Painting Breakfast of an aristocrat, 1849

Pavel Fedotov

Even the most devoted admirers of the artist may not know that the unfortunate Pavel Fedotov ended his life in a lunatic asylum at the age of 37. Biographers are sure that if the author of “Major’s Matchmaking”, “Widows”, “Anchor, more anchor!” had more time, he would have made an even more significant contribution to the development of Russian critical realism.

Fedotov suffered from schizophrenia, and by the end of his life the artist’s condition rapidly deteriorated. Difficult working conditions, exhausting work with strain for the eyes and mind had a negative impact on peace of mind – severe headaches were replaced by seizures, hallucinations and delirium, which were treated in the clinic with whipping. In the Hospital of All Who Sorrow (in St. Petersburg), he died in 1852, unforgotten by only a few friends.

Portrait of Camille Claudel in Roubaix, France
Portrait of Camille Claudel in Roubaix, France. 10 crazy artists

Camille Claudel

The name of Camille Claudel is most associated with one of the most brilliant sculptors – Auguste Rodin, her teacher, patron and lover. However, her talent should not be underestimated – incredibly sensual sculptures (“Waltz”, “Age of Maturity”, “Wave”) and graphic-style paintings were recognized by contemporaries and descendants. Diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1905, she suffered from paranoia and destroyed many of her works. However, biographers still have doubts about the legality of her placement in the clinic (actually immediately after the death of her dearly beloved father).

Some researchers believe that the brother (also an artist), tormented by jealousy, thus tried to get rid of the “competitor”, because Camilla’s consent was not in the documents for hospitalization. In addition, certain facts indicate that Camilla worked in a clear mind, her outbursts of anger did not bring catastrophic harm (even the doctors urged the family not to put the young woman in the hospital and regularly asked to be taken back). However, Camilla spent 30 years in “imprisonment” and died alone in 1943 – even her mother never visited her.

Richard Dadd Contradiction Oberon and Titania 1854-1858
Richard Dadd Contradiction Oberon and Titania 1854-1858. 10 crazy artists

Richard Dadd

The tragic story of Richard Dadd can make even the most resilient person shudder. One of the main representatives of Victorian fairy tale painting suffered from hereditary schizophrenia (all his brothers suffered from mental disorders). At the age of 25, he was also declared insane and placed in the care of his family, which was a fatal mistake – in 1843 he saw the incarnation of the devil in his father and stabbed him to death.

Fleeing to Paris, Dadd tried to kill another man, but was captured by the police and placed in Bedlam, the famous psychiatric hospital. However, he did not stop creating even in captivity (Dadd died at the Broadmoor Clinic). From the pen of Richard came out such beautiful and mysterious paintings as “Children’s Problem”, “Master Swing of the Fairy Woodcutter”, “Dispute: Oberon and Titania”.

Alla prima. Vincent van Gogh. Starlight Night. 1889
Vincent van Gogh. Starlight Night. 1889
van Gogh

Probably the first name that comes to mind when mentioning artists with mental disorders is Van Gogh (Vincent Willem van Gogh). His difficult life, including the struggle with the disease, was beautifully described in his book Lust for Life by Irving Stone. Van Gogh lived only 37 years (he committed suicide), but what a legacy he left to the world – more than 2,000 paintings: bright, original, colorful. Van Gogh received recognition after his death – poverty and deprivation accompanied him all his life, and only the devoted brother Theo never deprived the genius of his support.

10 crazy artists. The Potato Eaters, Vincent Van Gogh
The Potato Eaters, Vincent Van Gogh

One of the most fruitful periods of creativity was living in Arles, but it was there that the mental disorder manifested itself most strongly. A quarrel with Gauguin, who came to visit him, a cut off earlobe – a severe attack struck Vincent, who at the end of December 1888 was taken to a psychiatric hospital, placed in a ward for violent. After improving his condition, Van Gogh lived and worked in a clinic in Saint-Remy-de-Provence. Finally, his work begins to find a response in the artistic environment, but late – in July 1890, Van Gogh shot himself in the heart while walking and soon died. Theo, unable to bear the separation from his beloved brother, also passed away six months later. The brothers are buried side by side in Auvers-sur-Oise.

Edvard Munch

The ingenious Norwegian expressionist Edvard Munch (he became one of the first representatives of this direction) worried about death, loneliness, being all his life. Probably, heredity and the atmosphere prevailing in the family were not the last factors due to which the artist developed a mental disorder towards the end of his life. His father was distinguished by a painful religiosity, and passionate sermons made young Edward suffer from nightmares.

One sister, Sophie, with whom the artist was especially close, died early, and the second, Laura, was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia. The death of his father caused a prolonged depression for the artist, aggravated by a painful affair with the eccentric Tulla Larsen. At the turn of the century, Munch experienced many severe nervous breakdowns, he became paranoid suspicious, suspected everyone of conspiracies and intrigues under construction. By 1908, his condition had deteriorated so much that he ended up with a mental disorder in a clinic in Copenhagen, where he spent half a year. True, this did not affect his creative activity at all – even during treatment, he worked on his paintings.

10 crazy artists. Mikhail Vrubel
Mikhail Vrubel
Mikhail Vrubel

A large-scale and “prolific” artist, Mikhail Vrubel was closely interested not only in painting and graphics, but also in theater, religion and sculpture. Like many great masters, his life is a continuous series of disappointments, trials and searches for himself.

After 40 years, the malaise began to manifest itself more and more – he was tormented by migraines, insomnia, he exhausted himself with work to the point of exhaustion (he wrote “The Demon Downcast” for 14 hours a day without rest). The constantly excited state and inappropriate behavior of the painter forced friends to take Vrubel to a psychiatrist, and a little later he ended up in a private clinic with an acute mental disorder (based on tertiary syphilis). In the clinic, Vrubel behaved violently, severe seizures depleted the body, he suffered from megalomania and tore his clothes.

Mikhail Vrubel. Painting Six-Winged Seraphim, 1904
Mikhail Vrubel. Painting Six-Winged Seraphim, 1904

Doctors’ forecasts were disappointing – ahead of mental and physical extinction. After the death of his son, the patient’s condition worsened – hallucinations, delirium, Vrubel starved himself in fits of self-abasement. The rest of the artist’s life passed in such a “swing” – a clearing of the mind and beautiful pictures, or psychosis and voices in the head. Vrubel brought himself to death, standing next to an open window in the cold – pneumonia turned into transient tuberculosis (consumption), and in April 1910 the great master died.

10 crazy artists. Louis William Wain; August 5, 1860, London - July 4, 1939
Louis William Wain; August 5, 1860, London – July 4, 1939
Louis Wayne

The famous artist from England, Louis Wain, was remembered for his extraordinary images of animals, especially cats. He is called the main “preacher” of Victorian fairy tale painting. Wayne grew up and spent virtually his entire life with 5 sisters, none of whom married, and the youngest was declared insane and sent to an insane asylum. Wayne worked as a freelance artist, especially he loved rural landscapes and images of animals.

Cats served him as an inexhaustible source of inspiration, and his wife’s cat, Peter, according to Louis himself, deserves credit for becoming an artist. Wayne illustrated magazines, children’s books, postcards, which gained particular popularity. Moreover, his illustrations with cats and animals were often a satire or a parody of people. For Wayne, the “fame” of a peculiar person was fixed for life, but over the years, eccentricity turned into a serious disorder: he was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

10 crazy artists. Five cats, Red at the head. Louis Wayne. 1900s
Five cats, Red at the head. Louis Wayne. 1900s. 10 crazy artists

Louis Wayne suffered from hallucinations, persecution mania, suspected sisters, became aggressive. He was placed in a clinic with a garden and a cattery, so Wayne spent his last years there in comfort. He continued to paint, favoring intricate abstract patterns. Louis Wayne died in 1939, and his paintings in the 90s. of the last century, they regained great popularity and are valued quite expensively.

10 crazy artists. Mikhail Tikhonov. Leaders Boki and Kahekili aboard the Russian sloop Kamchatka, 1818
Mikhail Tikhonov. Leaders Boki and Kahekili aboard the Russian sloop Kamchatka, 1818. 10 crazy artists
Mikhail Tikhonov

Russian artist Mikhail Tikhonov was born a serf, but he got his freedom thanks to his artistic talent and the paintings that academicians liked. Together with Vasily Golovnin, he made a round-the-world trip on the boat “Kamchatka”. By the way, the master’s disease began to manifest itself and progress there: he became ill in Manila (Philippines).

Upon his return, Tikhonov was placed in a clinic, but the temporary improvement was followed by a decline. For the rest of his life, he was in the care of other people – first the artist Luchaninov, and later his widow. The bulk of Tikhonov’s works (colored watercolors, engravings and portraits) are stored in the Museum of the Russian Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg.

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