Artists, particularly painters, as a group can be self-centered, arrogant, vain, egotistical, and in some instances simply brilliant. But hiding beneath that favorable surface lays a secret. A great many of them are just insane and I'm not even talking about myself. Of my own favorite painters Van Gogh and Picasso were debatably insane while Goya and Pollock suffered from depression. There is even a term for it, outsider art or art brut was first used by French artist Jean Dubuffet to describe art created in an insane asylum.
The idea of a 'mad genius' actually goes as far back as ancient Greece, where Socrates dismissed any poet "untouched by the madness of the muses." Socrates warned that such poets are doomed to find their "sane compositions never reach perfection, but are utterly eclipsed by the inspired madman." In Phaedrus Plato wrote that artists were bestowed with a divine madness, and Aristotle was in all probability the first to connect creativity with depression.
In 1991 Dr. Arnold M. Ludwig, a psychiatrist at the University of Kentucky, did survey of 1,000 famous 20th-century artists and writers, comparing their mental health with those of normal professions. Ludwig discovered that artists and writers had two to three times the rate of psychosis, suicide attempts, mood disorders, and substance abuse than did successful people in business or science. Freudian psychiatry offers an explanation in the theory that people who are creative are much more in touch with their unconscious which makes them more creative which makes them think in crazier ways which makes them more creative. God, no wonder we all need therapy.
Once again I have taken forever to get to my point of writing this. I have been in a very artistic mood this week to the point that I was thinking about painting something. Always my dark guardian angel Ash took it upon herself to remind me of what I'm like when I paint. Pretty much it involves days of isolation and copious quantities of tequila, nicotine, and caffeine with very little or no food at all. Totally immersed I will paint until that moment comes when I stand back and realize that one way or another it's finished. Hopefully what I saw in my head is on the canvas because one time I did take a scissors to a painting and I have been known to burn others.
So those thoughts led to all the insanity thoughts which led to this post. I started to write a post about art and my thinking of painting again but I finished this post first so when it seems I'm out of order here, well, just another sign of my insanity.
Nine Inch Nails - The Hand That Feeds
(Love the coloring of that vid.)