Creativity has always been associated with eccentricity; the two just seem to go hand-in-hand. But, what may be considered a little ‘off the beaten path for some’, could be painfully normal to another. In the art industry, one gets exposed to so many characters that the real world becomes mind-numbingly dull in comparison. Here are five artists who took being slightly unconventional to a whole other level.
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Love him or hate him, Andy Warhol cannot be denied the coveted title of ‘the leading figure in the visual art movement of POP ART.’ Warhol took the obvious and made it even more obvious; revolutionizing what art meant and its incredible power to influence society, culture and economy. Through photographs, drawings, prints and film, Andy Warhol was able to boost the Campbell’s soup can to notoriety it couldn’t ever imagine in a million years and made America re-think what it meant to be ‘a celebrity.’
Eccentricities include: being a chronic hoarder and compulsively recording his life and the lives of all his ‘friends’ that went in and out of The Factory, owner of over 40 wigs imported from Italy, irritatingly elusive (especially during interviews), and he was a practicing Byzantine Catholic. (interesting…)
Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)
Poet and painter Frida Kahlo was a fiery, fierce and unapologetic anomaly whose eccentricity began quite early when she changed the date of her birth, from 1907 to 1910, to coincide with the year of the Mexican revolution so that her life began with the birth of modern Mexico. Injuries from an accident she endured as a teenager, left Kahlo with a lifetime of health problems. But, those drawbacks never compromised Kahlo’s spirit or talent. Her painting ‘The Frame’ was the first painting by a Mexican artist to ever be purchased by The Louvre.
Eccentricities include: being an open bisexual in the 1920s, preoccupation with pain and trauma, incredibly passionate and outspoken feminist.
Salvador Dali (1904-1989)
Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali was known for his signature, thin mustache and freaky paintings of melting clocks and faces within faces, within faces…Dali hung out with a queer crowd of photographers, directors and writers like Man Ray, Pepin Bello and Federico Lorca but it was his antics coupled with the artist’s distinct painting style that garnered him a cult following, to this day.
Eccentricities include: being the owner of an exotic ocelot, donning capes and walking ticks and referring to himself in third person during interviews.
Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)
Van Gogh’s command of color and unusual composition would bring him no fame or recognition until after his death in 1890. The Dutch post-impressionist painter was penniless for the better part of his life and his paintings pave a journey through his hallucinatory and wildly emotional mind. Van Gogh was more than a roller coaster; the man was a train wreck. But that didn’t stop him from painting an exceptional picture.
Eccentricities include: sticking his hand into a flaming lamp to get the attention of a suitor whom rejected his marriage proposal, chopping off part of his own ear, surviving nearly 29 hours after shooting himself in the chest. His last words being “The sadness will last forever.”
Henry Darger (1892-1973)
A lot of artists will tell you that they kept ‘odd jobs’ in their pursuit of a creative life, but Henry Darger was a custodian, by trade, who, after his death, became one of the most celebrated, obscure artists of all time. Writer of The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion (yes, that’s the ENTIRE TITLE), Darger tells a tale of a fantasy world where The Vivian Girls, princesses and daughters of ruler Robert Vivian, start a rebellion against the nation of Abbieannia who is responsible for an evil regime of child slavery. The single-spaced, 15,145 page work is bound in 15, densely-typed volumes complete with several hundred watercolor illustrations. Since Darger’s death, his work has been an inspiration to several musicians and artists, most notably Animal Collective’s cover art for their 2005 album Feels.
Eccentricities include: writing journals (he is said to have left a 10-year DAILY weather journal), diaries, and fantasy stories, never buying any new clothes after WW1, and painstakingly detailing even the most menial facets of life in thousand (or more)-page works of fiction.