There have been many famous artists throughout history who have been viewed as being quite eccentric or strange. Some of them are well known for their eccentric behavior; others seem to fly under the radar. Here are a few artists who were considered to be rather odd by some people:
Vincent Van Gogh
Dutch painter famous for his “Starry Night” painting and many other works that would become iconic in art history books worldwide. While he is now highly revered as one of the greatest painters of all time, there was a period when he lived off of charity donations from friends and family members after having had several breakdowns (he had epilepsy). During this time, Van Gogh often cut off parts of his ear due to what doctors believed was an intense form of epilepsy.
American painter who created many huge paintings in which colors bleed into one another, creating a very soft, almost ethereal effect in his work. Many of his works were large murals meant to be displayed in public places such as museums and libraries. Still, he refused to lend out any original artworks for fear that they might not return to him unharmed (he was probably right about this). He also had a habit of throwing away or destroying any artwork he deemed unworthy after completing it.
A famous pop artist whose “Campbell’s Soup Can Series” became famous worldwide and helped usher the Pop Art movement into existence during the 1960s and 1970s. Warhol was afraid of being seen in public, so much so that he would never eat at restaurants or attend parties alone. This led him to hire a personal assistant who would often have an elaborate disguise ready for Warhol when he had business meetings or social engagements to go to.
An American actor and well-known horror film star who performed many voice roles in animated movies during his career (he played “Eugene” in Disney’s The Little Mermaid). Well known for his distinctive sinister laugh, there were rumors among the Hollywood community that said Price liked to collect shrunken heads (among other bizarre things), which could explain why some people might think he was strange.
Canadian pianist who was well-known for his innovative style of playing classical music at a very fast pace, which made him quite popular in the 1960s to 1980s when he was alive. He also had a nervous habit of tapping on the piano’s keys with both hands while performing that would cause the piano to sound out of tune if someone else were to play it afterward.
Spanish painter whose surrealist style would later influence other famous artists such as Andy Warhol. While he is often viewed as eccentric because of his artworks and his outlandish personality, many rumors claim the artist was a bit crazy or at least had some mental disorder.
French composer who is most famous for composing the music used in the ballet “Rite of Spring” by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. While many people view him as just being eccentric due to how he dressed, there are rumors that Debussy had some mental illness or disorder that made it difficult for him to get along with other people (unlike his rival Maurice Ravel). He disliked large crowds because they would cause psychological stress within him, but this did not stop him from attending events where lots of people would be in attendance.
French painter famous for his painting “Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going,” which later became one of the most famous works in art history books worldwide. He was known to have had an affair with a Tahitian woman after he decided to move there, and when she died years later, it is said that Gauguin cut off her head to preserve it (he also did this with some other people who would pass away). When asked why he would do something like this, Gauguin claimed they were still alive in spirit.
A famous writer who is best known for his novels such as The Metamorphosis, but he also wrote some short stories which are known to be quite odd. It’s said that Kafka liked to write in the dark and would often use a gas lamp or candlelight instead of the electric lights, even when writing during daytime hours (he had terrible eyesight). He also used to have frequent nightmares about being chased by large figures wearing nightcaps.
French composer who was very close friends with Claude Debussy, whom he often played music with at parties and social gatherings around Paris where both men lived during their adult lives. It is said that Ravel once severed ties with his wife after she became pregnant because he felt it made him look too old.
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