Van Gogh Vs. Dali: Who Was Crazier?

Artists Vincent Van Gogh and Salvatore Dali were both renown for their bizarre behavior. But which famous artist was truly insane?

Throughout his life Van Gogh fasted many times for days on end, drank excessively, and partook of the incredibly potent liquor absinthe. At one point he cut off his own ear and gave it to a prostitute. In 1890 at the age of 37, he ended his life with a pistol.

In 1991 researchers came up with a convincing theory—that the symptoms described by Van Gogh indicate that the artist may have suffered a hereditary metabolic disorder called acute intermittent porphyria, the symptoms of which would account for Van Gogh’s frequent hallucinations, periods of derangement and depression, severe abdominal pain, and seizures.

Salvador Dali, too, was considered “crazy,” and may have suffered from a personality disorder, according to researchers who used a computer program, with input from a variety of published sources.

However, there are many who believe that Dali’s eccentricities were primarily an act. He was so outlandish that it seemed intentional.

While Van Gogh was publicly to be considered unstable—at one point the townspeople even protested in the hopes that he would be incarcerated in an insane asylum—much of his insanity was detailed only in private letters.

Dali, on the other hand, wrote in his published autobiography that he bit off the head of a bat as a child, and developed an interest in necrophilia (but was later conveniently “cured” of it)—but none of those claims can be proven.

While Dali’s theatrics benefitted his career—possibly in an attempt to mimic the insanity that catapulted Van Gogh to fame after his suicide—Van Gogh hardly sold any of his artwork while alive.

New evidence at the Van Gogh museum—a letter from Dr. Felix Rey, who treated Van Gogh’s ear wound—reveals that the artist didn’t just cut off the earlobe as many have previously thought, but the entire left ear.

So while Salvator Dali might win the prize for the most eccentric artist, Van Gogh was, unfortunately, the most clinically disturbed.

Picasso’s Blue Period – Ruled By Depression And The Loss Of A Friend

picasso-39592_640There are a few different theories behind Pablo Picasso’s Blue Period. This part of his art timeline lasted from 1901 to 1904. While the paintings were painted in Paris, the work was inspired by Picasso’s time in Spain. These works are among the artist’s most popular and consist of works painted in monochromatic shades of blue and blue-green, rarely warmed by other colors. They are somber works and while extremely popular now, were hard to sell when painted.

Picasso went through a time of instability and poverty and this experience is reflected in his choice of subjects for the Blue Period, including street urchins, beggars, the blind, and the old and frail. The paintings started not long after the suicide of Picasso’s close friend Carlos Casagemas. In late 1901, Picasso suffered from extreme depression and began creating the blue-tone dominated paintings.

Considered the first painting of Picasso’s Blue Period, Casagemas in His Coffin was completed while Picasso was in a heavy depression. He withdrew from socializing and continued to spiral downward, a period which lasted several years. The public turned away from these Blue Period works, finding them too depressing and the subject matter uncomfortable. Picasso’s gloomy painting La Vie was the last in a series of posthumous portraits of Casagemas.

Picasso was also influenced by a visit to St. Lazare, a woman’s prison in Paris. Here, prisoners were guarded by nuns. Following this visit, Picasso painted The Two Sisters where blue symbolized the Holy Mother.

At this time in his life, Picasso was vulnerable to a variety of outside influences. There were many artists and exhibitions believed to have influenced his work. These include Henri Matisse and Fauve. Picasso began exploring new avenues of creativity resulting in his ground-breaking works.

Picasso’s Blue Period produced some of his most popular paintings. Experts vary on exactly what prompted the artist’s use of one color and depressing subject matter.

No More Croissants

I am tired of hearing that France generates the best painters. They had ONE movement called Impressionism and it was OK! Spain is the BEST in regards to generating truly unique artists and movements. See for yourself: