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The Artists of Tragedy

Enlisting & remembering “Famous Artists who committed suicide” | People who graced 7 different Art categories with their immortal art but were defeated by life and themselves – Take a look!

#1 Fine Arts- Van Gogh

Vincent Willem Van Gogh (30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890) was a Dutch post-Impressionist painter whose work, notable for its rough beauty, emotional honesty and bold color, had a far-reaching influence on 20th-century art.

Artistic Achievements – Van Gogh began to draw as a child, and he continued to draw throughout the years that led up to his decision to become an artist. He began painting in his late twenties and in just over a decade, he produced more than 2,100 artworks, consisting of 860 oil paintings and more than 1,300 watercolors, drawings, sketches and prints. His work included self-portraits, landscapes, still lives, portraits and paintings of cypresses, wheat fields and sunflowers.

However it is interesting to know that until his death, his work was known to only a handful of people and appreciated by fewer still. It was only after his death, he achieved world fame!

Most interesting fact about Vincent- He was known to exchange letters with his brother Theo.

Suicide Story- Death Day: 27 July 1890

On that Sunday evening Vincent van Gogh set out, with his easel and painting materials, into the fields. There he took out a revolver and shot himself in the chest. Vincent managed to stagger back to his room where he collapsed in bed and was then discovered by Dr. Gachet. It was decided not to attempt to remove the bullet in Vincent’s chest and Gachet wrote an urgent letter to Theo.

Vincent and Theo remained together for the last hours of Vincent’s life. Theo was devoted to his brother, holding him and speaking with him in Dutch. Vincent seemed resigned to his fate and Theo later wrote: “He himself wanted to die; when I sat at his bedside and said that we would try to get him better and that we hoped that he would then be spared this kind of despair, he said ‘La tristesse durera toujours’ (‘The sadness will last forever.’)

Vincent van Gogh died at 1:30 am on 29 July 1890 The Catholic church of Auvers also refused to allow Vincent’s burial in its cemetery because Vincent had committed suicide. The nearby township of Méry, however, agreed to allow the burial and the funeral was held on 30 July.

Strangely throughout June (a month before his death), Vincent remained in good spirits and was remarkably productive, painting some of his best known works (Portrait of Doctor Gachet and The Church at Auvers, for example).

What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything? – Van Gogh

#2 Performing Arts/ Acting – Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe (June 1, 1926 – August 5, 1962) was an American actress, model, and singer, who became a major sex symbol, starring in a number of commercially successful motion pictures during the 1950s and early 1960s.

Artistic Achievements- She began her career as a model, which led to a film contract in 1946 with Twentieth Century-Fox. During her career, Monroe’s films grossed more than $200 million

Most interesting fact about Marilyn- She suffered a great deal of stage fright and was not allowed to go to movies in one of his foster homes.

Suicide Story- Death Day: August 4, 1962

The final years of Monroe’s life were marked by illness, personal problems, and a reputation for unreliability and being difficult to work with.

Sometime after 10 p.m. on that night, Marilyn Monroe slipped into a coma caused by an overdose of sleeping pills. She would never regain consciousness. And a bizarre set of activities took place in her home- some items were allegedly removed, including a diary and a note by the order from someone in the White House, in an attempt to prevent the presidency of John F. Kennedy (whom Marilyn was believed to be in a sexual relationship)

Marilyn is also said to be secretly taken that night by an ambulance crew to a nearby hospital before being returned again to her home. According to some accounts, Marilyn’s body was rediscovered by her house companion, Eunice Murray, and her psychiatrist, Dr. Greenson, several hours following the initial discovery of her remains.

A smart girl leaves before she is left – Marilyn Monroe

#3 Photography – Kevin Carter

Kevin Carter (13 September 1960 – 27 July 1994) was an award-winning South African photojournalist and member of the Bang-Bang Club. He was the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize for his photograph depicting the 1993 famine in Sudan

Artistic Achievements-

In March 1993, while on a trip to Sudan, Carter was preparing to photograph a starving toddler trying to reach a feeding center when a hooded vulture landed nearby. Sold to the New York Times, the photograph first appeared on 26 March 1993 and was carried in many other newspapers around the world. In 1994, the photograph won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography.

Suicide Story- Death Day 27 July 1994

On that day, Carter drove to the Braamfontein Spruit river, an area where he used to play as a child, and took his own life by taping one end of a hose to his pickup truck’s exhaust pipe and running the other end to the passenger-side window. He died of carbon monoxide poisoning, aged 33.

Portions of Carter’s suicide note read:

“I am depressed … without phone … money for rent … money for child support … money for debts … money!!! … I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings and corpses and anger and pain … of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners … I have gone to join Ken if I am that lucky.

#4 Filmmaker – Tony Scott

Anthony David “Tony” Scott (21 June 1944 – 19 August 2012) was a British film director and producer.

Artistic Achievements- His films were generally more popular with audiences than critics and include The Hunger (1983), Top Gun (1986), Beverly Hills Cop II (1987),Days of Thunder (1990), The Last Boy Scout (1991), True Romance (1993), Crimson Tide (1995), Enemy of the State (1998), Spy Game (2001), Man on Fire (2004), Déjà Vu (2006), The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009) & Unstoppable (2010).

Suicide Story- Death Day: 19 August 2012

On that day, at approximately 12:30 pm PDT, Scott committed suicide by jumping off the Vincent Thomas Bridge in the San Pedroport district of Los Angeles, California. Police found contact information in a note left in his car, parked on the bridge and a note at his office for his family. Witnesses said he did not hesitate before jumping. His body was recovered from the water by the Los Angeles Port Police.

The two notes left behind by him, made no mention of any health issues and neither explained why he committed suicide.

Three days later the cause of death was announced to be “multiple blunt force injuries”. Although anti-depressants prescription drugs were found in Scot’s system on autopsy.

I think we are lucky because there are very few people in life who get to do what we are doing. – Tony Scott

#5 Model/Fashion – Nafisa Joseph

Nafisa Joseph (28 Mar 1978- 29 July 2004) was an Indian model and MTV video jockey.

She was the winner of Miss India Universe 1997 and was a semi-finalist in the Miss Universe 1997 pageant in Miami.

Artistic Achievements- Began modeling at age 12 Joseph was the youngest participant at the Miss India pageant in 1997, which she won. Joseph participated in the Miss Universe Pageant in Miami, Florida (1997) and was among the 10 semifinalists in the pageant.

In 1999, she was a judge for the MTV India VJ Hunt. A week later she was called for a screen test to host a show on MTV. She ran the MTV House Full show for close to five years. She also acted in a television series C.A.T.S, an Indian version of Charlie’s Angels for Sony Entertainment Television.

Suicide Story- Death Day: 29 July 2004

Something went terribly wrong in just three hours. Apparently, she was upset with her fiancé behavior with which she had settled a marriage and later discovered him to be already married

She had a long talk with her mother after which she asked her mother to go into the bedroom and leave her alone. Nafisa then hung herself in her flat sometime between 9 pm and 10 pm.

Found hanged, she was then rushed to the hospital where she was declared dead.

Winning is very important to me. I wouldn’t be happy with anything less. And I work towards my goal.- Nafisa Jose

#6 Writing – Virginia Wolf

Adeline Virginia Woolf (25 January 1882 – 28 March 1941) was an English writer, and one of the foremost modernists of the twentieth century.

Artistic Achievements- During the interwar period, Woolf was a significant figure in London literary society and a central figure in the influential Bloomsbury Group of intellectuals. Her most famous works include the novels Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and Orlando (1928), and the book-length essay A Room of One’s Own (1929), with its famous dictum, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”

Suicide Story- Death Day-28 March 1941

After completing the manuscript of her last novel, Between the Acts, Woolf fell into a depression. The onset of World War II, the destruction of her London home during the Blitz, and the cool reception given to her biography of her late friend Roger Fry all worsened her condition until she was unable to work. On 28 March 1941, Woolf put on her overcoat, filled its pockets with stones, and walked into the River Ouse near her home and drowned herself. Woolf’s body was not found until 18 April 1941. Her husband buried her cremated remains under an elm in the garden of , their home in Rodmell, Sussex.

In her last note to her husband she wrote:

“Dearest, I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier ’til this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer.”

#7 Music – Kurt Cobain

Kurt Donald Cobain (February 20, 1967 – April 5, 1994) was an American musician and artist, best known as the lead singer, guitarist and primary songwriter of the grunge band Nirvana.

Artistic Achievements- Nirvana, with Cobain as a songwriter, has sold over 25 million albums in the U.S. , and over 50 million worldwide

Suicide Story- Death Day: April 8, 1994

On that day, Cobain was found dead at his home in Seattle, the victim of what was officially ruled a suicide by a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head

During the last years of his life, Cobain struggled with heroin addiction, illness and depression. He also had difficulty coping with his fame and public image, and the professional and lifelong personal pressures surrounding himself and his wife, musician Courtney Love.

Had they been alive , they would have given so much more to the world!