These artists will fucking kill you. Read on for details.
Artists You Never Want to Meet in a Dark Alley Because TheyÃ¢ï¿½ï¿½d Probably Kill You
Caravaggio, one of the most influential artists in history, was most well known for his dramatic and emotionally wrenching depictions of the crucifixion. He was a revolutionary in the Baroque movement sweeping through Europe and quickly became the golden boy in Rome, bringing him substantial wealth and recognition. Tenebrism, his method of creating dramatic contrasts of dark and light was soon employed by up and coming artists who proudly christened themselves, The Caravaggisti.
Although Caravaggio had a huge following and a collection of high ranking friends, by most accounts, he was kind of a dick. He was known around town as an egotistical, rabble rouser cursing at cops and throwing food at waiters. Eventually, his temper erupted in the most unlikely of places. After a round of tennis with a friend, Caravaggio pretty much became the poster child for "sore loser." After Caravaggio accused his friend of cheating, the two began to brawl, hitting each other over the head with their rackets. Finally, Caravaggio came to the realization that murder by tennis racket was going to be incredibly difficult and kind of lame. He pulled his sword and ran his friend through, disemboweling him on the tennis court.
Vincent Van Gogh, obviously not the name you think of while discussing mental stability. He was in and out of insane asylums his entire life and of course, there was the whole lopping off his ear incident. However, not many know the historical circumstances that incited this infamous act of self mutilation.
Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin were friends and had dreams of starting an artist's community in Southern France; a sort of socialist society of artists communing with nature and pooling their resources to support their creative endeavors. The idea of artists frolicking in wild flowers and weaving afghans sounds pretty awesome, so what could possibly go wrong? Oh yeah, Van Gogh was completely insane. Growing increasingly paranoid and delusional, Van Gogh became impatient with Gauguin's diminishing enthusiasm for their art community plans and became anxious that his only friend would abandon him. Van Gogh waited for Gauguin to come home (insert mental image of Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction here) to confront him. Upon his return, the two began to argue and in a psychotic fit, Van Gogh threatened Gauguin with a knife. Not surprisingly, this outburst served to freak Gauguin out, whom subsequently, fled for his life. Van Gogh, distraught over his actions and the loss of his friend, decided to seek refuge with his favorite prostitute, Rachel; but not before lopping off his ear as a gift.
Richard Dadd, know the name? You will. Dadd was a relatively successful Victorian artist most well known for his depiction of fairies and English folklore. Sounds like a pretty whimsical, good natured guy, right? Well, perhaps he was, but on a trip to Egypt, Dadd developed a taste for Opium and spent the majority of his trip holed up in a room with a Hookah. A few days into his bender, Dadd believed that the Egyptian God, Osiris, was communicating to him, urging him to kill. His traveling companion and patron, Sir Thomas Phillips, noticed a marked change in Dadd's disposition after leaving Egypt, but attributed it to sun stroke. Soon, however, after being on the receiving end of Dadd's violent tantrums, Phillips realized sunstroke was no longer a viable explanation. Dadd was sent home where he was diagnosed as mentally unfit, but rather than seeking treatment, he convinced his father that rest would alleviate his symptoms. His father promptly took Dadd to a cottage in the English countryside to assist in his son's recovery.
You don't have to be psychic to predict what happens next. On a leisurely stroll, Dadd murdered his father with a knife and then dismembered him with a razor blade. Dadd fled to Paris, not bothering to change his blood soaked clothes. While on the lam, police searched his apartment, finding sketches of Dadd's friends and family with their throats slashed ,as well as, a list of names with the heading "Those Who Must Die." Dadd was eventually apprehended in Paris while attempting to slash a random tourist's throat. He was tried and finally sentenced to life in an asylum where he spent the rest of his days painting his fairies.
Eadweard Muybridge, renowned photographer and pioneer in the art of time lapse photography, predated Ansel Adams in his passion for depicting the American West. He quickly gained fame for his photographs and moving pictures, but soon became infamous for the cold blooded murder of his wife's lover.
After suspecting his wife of an affair, Muybridge snooped around and found a note from Major Harry Larkyns incriminating himself as the interloper. Muybridge then confronted Larkyns with a pistol and said, "Good evening, Major, my name is Muybridge and here is the answer to the letter you sent my wife."
Larkyns was found dead by gun shot and Muybridge was soon arrested and tried for his murder. Muybridge's defense was cockamamie at best. He pled insanity due to an incident in which he fell from a stage coach and hit his head. The flimsiness of his argument was inconsequential however, because the jury found Muybridge's act justified. He was absolved of all wrong doing and set free.
Side Note: Despite the overwhelming resemblance, Muybridge was convinced that his son, Florado, was actually the illegitimate son of Larkyns'. He placed the boy in an orphanage and cut off all contact. Florado Helios Muybridge (nicknamed "Floddie") was hit by a car in 1944 and died in Sacramento, California.
Walter Sickert, aka, Jack the RipperÃ¢ï¿½Â¦allegedly. Probably the biggest bombshell to rock the art world in recent history is author, Patricia Cornwell's assertion that the German born English impressionist painter, Walter Sickert was the infamous serial killer, Jack the Ripper.
Sickert was a respected artist studying under James McNeill Whistler and later heavily influenced by the theater depictions of Edgar Degas. In his earlier career, he focused primarily on the portrayal of music halls, painting scenes from odd angles or in mirrored reflections to confuse the viewer. His later work however, focused on the depictions of nudes and his models were primarily prostitutes who weren't shy or concerned about the social consequences of posing undressed. Little did Sickert know that these paintings would serve as evidence against him after his death.
According to Cornwell, Sickert, enjoyed portraying his crimes as Jack the Ripper in his paintings and even inserted some symbols and clues that only the killer would know. For instance, Cornwell compared photographs of the victims with the body positions of Sickert's nudes and concluded that the artist was referencing his crimes.
Cornwell even has a theory of motive. She asserts that Sickert was impotent due to the various surgeries he endured to remove a fistula on his penis. This, Cornwell believes, is the reason for Sickert's alleged hatred of women and eventually drove him to murder Camden prostitutes.
Finally, the coup de grace, the mother load of evidence against Sickert, if you will, came in the form of DNA. Now, any Ripperologist (admit it, you know one) will tell you that throughout Jack the Ripper's murderous career, several taunting letters allegedly from the killer, were sent to the Camden police. Cornwell conducted DNA testing on these letters and compared them with correspondence from Sickert. According to the author, the results conclusively link Sickert to at least one of the Jack the Ripper letters. Not only that, but Sickert's stationary included a watermark that is identical to the watermark embedded in another Jack the Ripper letter.
Cornwell's book has received mixed reviews concerning its legitimacy but the results of her DNA testing are certainly compelling and have spurned further investigation. As far as Sickert's guilt; we shall see, as the infamy of Jack the Ripper will surely live on.