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Death of an Artist

29 March 2008 28 comments

Suicide (Latin suicidium, from sui caedere, to kill oneself) is the act of intentionally terminating one's own life, although in many dictionaries it connotes "willful destruction of one's self-interest," not necessarily physical death. Suicide occurs for any number of reasons, often relating to depression, substance abuse, shame, avoiding pain, financial difficulties or other undesirable situations.
The predominant view of modern medicine is that suicide is a mental health concern, associated with psychological factors such as the difficulty of coping with depression, inescapable suffering or fear, or other mental disorders and pressures. Suicide is sometimes interpreted in this framework as a "cry for help" and attention, or to express despair and the wish to escape, rather than a genuine intent to die. Most people who attempt suicide do not complete suicide on a first attempt; those who later gain a history of repetitions are significantly more at risk of eventual completion.
Nearly a million people worldwide die by suicide annually. There are an estimated 10 to 20 million attempted suicides every year. Elderly males have the highest suicide rate, although rates for young adults have been increasing in recent years.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Vincent van Gogh

Self-portrait (1887)
Vincent Willem van Gogh (30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890) was a Dutch Post-Impressionist artist. His paintings and drawings include some of the world's best known, most popular and most expensive pieces.
On 27 July 1890, at the age of 37, he walked into the fields and shot himself in the chest with a revolver. Without realizing that he was fatally wounded he returned to the Ravoux Inn where he died in his bed two days later. Theo hastened to be at his side and reported his last words as "La tristesse durera toujours" (French for "the sadness will last forever").
Vincent was buried at the cemetery of Auvers-sur-Oise. Theo had contracted syphilis—though this was not admitted by the family for many years—and not long after Vincent's death, was himself admitted to hospital. He was not able to come to terms with the grief of his brother's absence, and died six months later on 25 January at Utrecht. In 1914 Theo's body was exhumed and re-buried beside Vincent.

Mark Rothko

Magenta, Black, Green on Orange,
oil on canvas, 1949,
Museum of Modern Art
Mark Rothko born Marcus Rothkowitz (Latvian: Marks Rotko); September 25, 1903–February 25, 1970) was a Latvian-born Jewish American painter and printmaker who is classified as an abstract expressionist, although he rejected not only the label but even being called an abstract painter.
"The fact that people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I can communicate those basic human emotions.. the people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when painting them. And if you say you are moved only by their color relationships then you miss the point."
In the spring of 1968, Rothko suffered an aneurysm of the aorta, a result of his chronic high blood pressure. Ignoring doctor’s orders, Rothko continued to drink and smoke heavily, avoid exercise and maintain an unhealthy diet. However, he followed the advice not to paint pictures larger than a yard in height and turned his attention to smaller formats, including acrylics on paper. Due to impotence, Rothko and his wife Mell separated on New Year’s Day 1969, and he moved into his studio. Sensing the end was near, Rothko and his financial advisor, Bernard Reis, created a foundation intended to fund "research and education" that would receive the bulk of Rothko’s work following his death. (Reis later sold the paintings to the Marlborough Gallery at a considerable loss and pocketed the difference with Gallery representatives, the result of which was one of the longest and most heavily hyped legal battles in art history.)
On February 25, 1970, Oliver Steindecker, Rothko’s assistant, found the artist in his kitchen, lying dead on the floor in front of the sink, covered in blood. His arms had been sliced open with a razor lying at his side. During autopsy it was discovered he had also overdosed on anti-depressants. He was 66 years old.

Jack Cole (artist)

The Three Stooges had nothing on Plastic Man: Police Comics #24 (Nov. 1943), cover art by Jack Cole
Jack Ralph Cole (December 14, 1914 - August 13, 1958) was an American comic book artist and Playboy magazine cartoonist best-known for creating the popular and highly influential superhero Plastic Man. He was posthumously inducted into the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1991, and the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 1999.
In May 1958, Cole realized one of his life's ambitions when he created his own daily syndicated newspaper comic strip, Betsy and Me, which chronicled the domestic adventures of nebbishy Chester Tibbet, his wife Betsy, and their 5-year-old genius son, Farley. By the end of the summer, it was appearing in 50 newspapers.
Not long afterward, Cole committed suicide. By now living at 703 Silver Lake Road in Cary, Illinois, about 40 miles northwest of Chicago, he told his wife at about two in the afternoon that he was picking up the mail and the newspapers. Driving his Chevrolet station wagon to Dave Donner's Sport Shop in nearby Crystal Lake, he purchased a .22 caliber, single-shot Marlin rifle. He phoned a neighbor between 5:15 and 5:30 p.m. to say what he was doing, and for the neighbor to tell Dorothy. Parked on a gravel road west of the intersection of Illinois Routes 176 and 14, Cole was found by three boys at approximately 6 p.m., shot in the head but still alive. A McHenry County sheriff's deputy arrived and called for an ambulance ten minutes later. Cole died at nearby Woodstock Hospital at 6:45 p.m.
That morning, he had mailed two suicide notes, one to Dorothy (who at a coroner's inquest testified that he had given his reasons) and one to his friend and boss, Playboy editor-publisher Hugh Hefner. The letter to his wife was never made public, and the reasons for Cole's suicide have remained unknown. Dorothy never again spoke with her late husband's family nor with Hefner, and remarried approximately a year later.

Dora Carrington

Farm at Watendlath (1921)
© Tate London, 2005
Dora de Houghton Carrington, known generally as Carrington, (March 29, 1893 – March 11, 1932) was a British painter and decorative artist.
She married Ralph Partridge, but lived most of her life with the homosexual writer Lytton Strachey . He died of cancer in January 1932. Carrington shot herself fatally two months later after a previous attempt to take her own life by asphyxiation from car exhaust. Partridge was able to intervene in the first suicide attempt but could not save her from the second attempt. She simply did not want to live without Strachey, whom she deeply loved. Carrington's life with Strachey was dramatized in the 1995 film Carrington, starring Emma Thompson in the title role.

Jeanne Hébuterne

Death Jeanne Hébuterne (April 6, 1898 – January 25, 1920) was a French artist, best known as the frequent subject and common-law wife of the artist Amedeo Modigliani.
On January 24, 1920 Amedeo Modigliani died. Jeanne Hébuterne's family brought her to their home but the totally distraught girl threw herself out of the fifth-floor apartment window two days after Modigliani's death, killing herself and her unborn child. Her family, who blamed her demise on Modigliani, interred her in the Cimetière de Bagneux. Nearly ten years later, the Hébuterne family finally relented and allowed her remains to be transferred to Père Lachaise Cemetery to rest beside Modigliani.

Diane Arbus

Identical Twins, Roselle, New Jersey, 1967, on the cover of Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph.
Diane Arbus (March 14, 1923 – July 26, 1971) was an American photographer, noted for her portraits of people on the fringes of society, such as transvestites, dwarfs, giants, prostitutes, and ordinary citizens in unconventional poses and settings.
In July 1971, Arbus committed suicide in Greenwich Village at the age of 48 by ingesting a large quantity of barbiturates and then slashing her wrists.

Francesca Woodman

American photographer Francesca Woodman (1958-1981) is best known for black-and-white pictures of herself and of female models. Many of her photographs show young women nude, blurred (due to movement and long exposure times), merging with their surroundings, or with their faces obscured. Years after her suicide at the age of 22, her photographic works became the subject of much attention, including many exhibitions and books.
In late 1980 Woodman became depressed due to her work and to a broken relationship. On January 19, 1981, she committed suicide by jumping out a loft window in New York. An acquaintance wrote "things had been bad, there had been therapy, things had gotten better, guard had been let down."

Arshile Gorky

Jack Rutberg Fine Arts
Arshile Gorky (real name - Vostanik Manoog Adoyan; Armenian:(April 15, 1904? – July 21, 1948) was an Armenian-born American painter who had a seminal influence on Abstract Expressionism.
Gorky's later years were filled with immense pain and heartbreak. His studio barn burned down, he underwent a colostomy for cancer, his neck was broken and his painting arm temporarily paralyzed in a car accident, and his wife of seven years left him, taking their children with her. Gorky hanged himself in Sherman, Connecticut, in 1948, at the age of 44. He is buried in North Cemetery in Sherman, Connecticut.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
see the full list here:
Artists who committed suicide

and @

Art History
An alphabetical listing of those dearly departed artists (plus one art historian and one famous patron) who chose to leave this world by their own hands.
Artists Who Committed Suicide

Offbeat News
Bizarre Graves and Grave Stress Therapy

The man who made lists to fend off depression
Peter Mark Roget, the creator of Roget's Thesaurus made lists to handle all the pain, grief, sorrow, affliction, woe, bitterness, unhappiness and misery in a life that lasted over 90 years.


Flix is an application made by Dave Butler that uses a digital camera or webcam to create time-lapse movies. Still pictures are captured every few seconds, minutes or hours (whatever the user decides), then they are merged together as frames in a time-lapse video. Some cool effects can be achieved this way.

Two examples of filming a time lapse video whilst an Artwork is taking shape

Drawing Scarlett Johansson Part 1 of 3 Actual Speed

From: FAPortraitFactory

Marilyn Monroe Time Lapse

From: nanreasaao
"Made with"

Blog Travels

Make an artist one sheet:

Casey Klahn @ The Colorist
New School Color - recently made an artist one sheet....
well worth checking out....

What I Love & Hate About Art Blogging

Frame That Spam! Data-Crunching Artists Transform the World of Information

Top 20 (or so) Art Blogs
This list of the best art blogs for exhibition reviews and other art news was compiled by Joy Garnett, Associate Library Manager, Robert Goldwater Library, Metropolitan Museum of Art

The 101 most useful websites
There are tens of millions of sites to visit. Not forgetting, here are the only ones you actually need. Compiled by David Baker


Speak Up Sydney is an exciting new initiative to help strengthen the tie between Sydney's local community and its businesses and we need to let as many Sydney-siders know about this as possible. And that of course includes you. As a launch incentive we're giving away up to $10,000 in cash and prizes!
Here's a bit of info on Speak Up Sydney and also how you could win a share of the prizes up for grabs.
Speak Up Sydney's goal is to provide a forum for Sydney residents to share the experiences they've had with local businesses and to voice their opinions in an open and honest manner. Why? Well here's what a recent survey conducted by research company PureProfile revealed:
1. 95% of Sydney residents feel out of the loop and would like to be more in-the-know about businesses in their local community.
2. 84% of Sydney-siders would like a forum to share their opinions and experiences (good and bad) with other people about the businesses and services in their local area.
3. 76% of people in Sydney currently waste time travelling outside their local area for services such as masseurs and mechanics because they don't know about alternative businesses within their local area.
Sydney-siders are feeling more and more disconnected from the people and businesses in their local community and we want to reverse this trend. And what better way to launch an initative like this than to give away bucket loads of cash and prizes?! There's 10 prizes up for grabs to the total of $10,000 with the main prize being $5,000 cash. How do you get your hands on the prizes? By sharing your past experiences and writing a review on a local business. Pretty simple really!
Speak Up Sydney has the support of some other super stars around Sydney such as, Time Out Sydney, Nudie, Lonely Planet, bopo, Greater Union Cinemas and many more.
All winners will be announced at an exclusive party to be held by Speak Up Sydney, RAYV and Time Out Sydney around the beginning of May.
For full details check out

I will be posting an update of the Top 101 Artists' Blogs
on the 1st April 2008

Add to Mixx!

Earth Hour countdown begins

Kim's signature



28 comments: to “ Death of an Artist so far...

  • Anonymous 29.3.08

    Wow, Kim! Such a lot of work gone into this post!
    Another suicide I can think of recently was the photographer Bob Carlos Clarke who threw himself under a train outside London a year or so ago. So sad.
    I have been exploring the rest of the post and found some very useful things and I also enjoyed the Monroe time lapse drawing fascinating to watch.
    Excellent post, Kim :-)

  • John M. Mora 29.3.08

    Blog travels had very informative links - thank you.

    The suicide section made me sad - I did not know Rothko was in such bad health. So much pain for so many and these are merely the most famous and succesful ones.

    My best - thanks for your visits.

  • durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit 30.3.08

    Hello Kim,

    I opened your site and I was intrigued by the title. I asked myself... "What? Is Kim Quitting? Is it because of her arm? Damn Zebras and Giraffes!"

    Then I began reading from Van Gogh down to Gorky, and as I finished each story, I began to wonder what the end of the post would be like. Will there be a note? Will it be goodbye to painting? Goodbye to blogging? What? I could hear my heart beating faster. I remember before Easter you said something about taking a break for personal and health reasons.

    When I saw the video, I heaved a sigh of relief. I like Scarlett Johannson, and of course, Marilyn Monroe!I got a scare there Kim.

    Is there a message in this somewhere I could be missing. Is a post about the suicides of artists an expression of something deep and troubling; and perhaps painfully unavoidable. I hope not Kim. I wouldn't want you not to be in your elements all the time. If I am over reacting, well and good. Perhaps I just got rattled. :-) --Durano, done!

  • fastfastlane 30.3.08

    To be in a state of emotional and mental level to want to leave this plane is very tragic, and all of us have suffered losses by the fate that these great artists have chosen for themselves.

    Great write-up Kim :-)

  • Casey Klahn 30.3.08

    Thanks for the mention, Kim. Now I'll have to update that One Sheet!

  • Kim 30.3.08

    thanks Diane
    I'll look up that photographer...
    the speed lapse drawings are great aren't they....this would work with your books too....that would be interesting to see the process behind the creation of your covers :)

    poor Rothko had a hard time of it John....
    it's a tragedy when anyone makes the decision to take their own life...
    yet on the other hand I do believe in Euthanasia...

    hi Durano
    thanks for your concern and care...
    I hope that I will be around for a long time ...
    don't worry..the zebras and giraffes would be more likely to go over the balcony before me...
    I have always found suicide an emotive and heart wrenching topic and I have had this post in draft for quite a while...
    one never knows what goes through the minds and hearts of those who are in so much pain....that the only escape is suicide...
    I think artists...with their heightened sensitivity could be more susceptible...but there are always so many extenuating factors with each individual regardless of ..etc....that sometimes we may never know the answers....

    thanks Deborah...
    so right ...many families have suffered the loss of a loved one....
    the answer sometimes a mystery forever....

    you're welcome Casey...
    I'd like to find some time to compile one myself :)

  • Anonymous 30.3.08

    That was an incredibly interesting post.

    I love Woodmen's work hand saw Carrington not that long ago on HBO.

    I'm going to look around the other links.

  • Kim 30.3.08

    thanks Cooper...
    I saw Carrington too ...a long while back....
    will have to get the DVD out again as it's one worth revisiting...

  • Speedcat Hollydale 30.3.08

    Quite impressive... lot's of research here Kim.

    Taking ones own life is so tragic. More so than any thing I can think of. I guess when you think things are hard, someone else is always hurting more. Very sad. The story of Jack Cole seemed to be lacking some "big" key piece of information. I wonder what it was.

    A myriad of interesting links here too! I'm not sure which to try first ... may have to use the Hollydale cursor mystery drop :-)

    OK, going to call everyone and tell them I love them now!

  • Kim 30.3.08

    hi Eric...
    the story of Jack Cole is certainly shrouded in mystery...
    ha... haven't heard of the Hollydale cursor drop ...but I can imagine ...bit like pin the tale on the
    hope you enjoy your mystery tour...and what a grand idea to phone everyone to tell them you love them...
    you never know do you ...

  • anandi 31.3.08

    Most of the artists live death coz the fear of death brings out the best in a man..
    hmm.. weird I guess.

    Hey Kim I attended SketchCrawl in bangalore

  • Kim 31.3.08

    yes...I see what you mean Anandi..
    thanks for your comments :)

  • Lynda Lehmann 31.3.08

    What a wonderfully informative post, Kim, interesting and chock full of information! I'll have to make a note of those Top Ten Art Blogs for future reference!

    Thanks for posting all this.

    The downer is reading how prevalent suicide really is! And not just among artists. Makes you realize the depth of human suffering; that it could be extreme enough to want to bring one's life to an end is hard to understand, especially for those who had either small or great success and were not reputed to have grave health problems or to have suffered great loss.

    Thanks, Kim, for the excellent post!

  • Kim 31.3.08

    thanks Lynda :)
    glad you enjoyed the links..
    it's very sad indeed....and your right.....suicide does not discriminate....
    it pays to live life one day at a time you never know where the road can lead you in the future...

  • Anonymous 1.4.08

    I wonder if these unfortunate people knew the importance of humor when difficult circumstances occur in life? The therapy of laughter can be a vital type of medicine to cope with the stress of life.

    The Hollydale cursor mystery drop? Does Speedy move his cursor mystery drop blindfolded? ;-)

    Miss Moneypenny uses the mystery mouse directional link finder (GPS enhanced for better tracking) ! :-)

  • Kim 1.4.08

    very true Debbie... :) :)
    seeing the funny side of life does wonders for our health....
    I had a wild guess re.. Speedy's mouse....
    I think it's responsible for making all of the images in this post disappear.....
    does Miss Moneypenny's mystery mouse directional link finder have a tail ???
    is it magical???
    can it make the missing photos reappear ???

  • Anonymous 1.4.08

    My mystery mouse directional link finder does have a tail tied to the computer! :)

    Unfortunately, it is no match for the wizardry of Speedy's mouse causing images to disappear! ;)

    Maybe, Google ran out of Pork Rations and consumed your Blogger images for lunch?

  • Kim 1.4.08

    LOL Debbie
    maybe they did !!!
    I reloaded the images with new titles so hopefully Google won't want dessert !!

  • Anonymous 3.4.08

    I don't know why but most of the artist get more famous after their death. That doesn't make any sense to me.

  • DubLiMan 11.4.08

    Hi Kim,

    Suicide enters every aspect of life and every profession. It is interesting to read about artist who have ended their own existence, bu are you aware of the high incidence of suicide amongst the police. It is tragic no matter what the profession.

    Now for the reason I came by....As you may be aware, the Big Bang has eclipsed 765 sites, which is pretty amazing. I feel that the 1,000 site goal is very doable. If you haven’t updated your list in a while I would suggest doing so at, however, that is not the reason for leaving this comment.

    I firmly believe that great things will happen to those who express gratitude for what they have. I am tagging you to express your gratitude with a Gratitude meme. Just go to http://AreYouGrateful.Com and follow the simple rules. Tagging is completely optional.

  • Kim 12.4.08

    hi MMO
    it doesn't make sense...and in the case of Van Gogh quite extraordinary....

    hi Mel
    well done on the progress of the Big Bang Meme :)
    I recently updated the lists here and at PoeARTica...
    thanks for your comments and I will check out the Gratitude meme :)

  • Antonio Howell, M.D. 22.6.08

    Suicide is a permanent solution to a a very temporary problem.

  • AscenderRisesAbove 23.6.08

    I am wondering if Mark Rothko had Marfan Syndrome...

  • Kim 23.6.08

    I agree Antonio
    that's a great quote !!
    it's tragic to think that a person can be so bereft of hope...

    I had to look that up on google Ascender...
    he certainly had some of the related symptoms...

  • Angela 25.6.08

    Hi Kim,
    This was such an interesting post, though not at all surprising that artists become overwhelmed by such intense emotion and find suicide to be their only escape.

    You have a wonderful blog, and I will definitely be back!

    Take care:)

  • Kim 25.6.08

    thank you Angel..
    It's a tragedy that artists can become overwhelmed by their emotions...
    thanks for calling by :)

  • TOMAS 26.6.08

    Coming to your blog was like entering a temple. Wow! I say that literally and will add you to my blogroll for not to forget return back frequently.
    Thank you.
    What concerns the suicide...At a moment it is obvious just one - I didn't entered that community till now. I was miraculously returned to life and therefore still have an opportunity to invite you to visit my blogs personally. Just click on the links

    Tomas Karkalas
    I would be the happiest man to have the reciprocal links with you. Is it possible?

  • Kim 26.6.08

    hello Tomas..
    thank you for your very kind words...
    I have visited your sites and your work is very impressive...I would be happy to exchange links with you..
    and also add your art blog to my 101 Top Artists' List :)
    I noticed that you have already linked to me
    thanks so much :)
    have a wonderful day :)

About The Author
Kim Barker is a Visual Artist (Diploma in Art and Graduate Diploma in Education). She is also a fully trained Reading Recovery Teacher. She has taught RAD (Royal Academy of Dancing) and Cecchetti Ballet Syllabii. Kim also manages the Top Artist' Directory and PoeARTica as well as her blog laketrees She lives with her family on the Eastern Central Coast of Australia. Follow Kim at laketrees on Twitter for updates and news