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Essay/Term paper: The artists throughout history that have self - destructed

Essay, term paper, research paper:  History

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The most successful or famous artists are not always as

happy as successful people are portrayed- living a life of

fame, fortune, and glamour. The following examples will

show some of the problems that four different artists have

suffered in the past century. Vincent van Gogh was a Dutch

painter who lived from March 30, 1853 to July 29, 1890.

He is now one of the most famous painters in modern art

(World Book 306). He only sold one painting in his living

days, but now his paintings are considered priceless. Some

of his paintings and drawings include: The Bedroom at

Arles 1888 Self-Portrait 1888 Vase with 12 Sunflowers

1888 Langlois Bridge with Women Washing 1888

(Sweetman 378) Those are just a few of his

accomplishments, though he has created many, many more

works of art. In 1888, artist Paul Gaugin moved into

Vincent"s house with him. At first everything worked out

fine, but within the year, their personalities started to clash,

and big problems arose. Then, on December 23, 1888,

Paul Gaugin was taking a walk in the nearby public garden,

when, according to his memoir "Avant et Apres," Vincent

chased after Gaugin with an open razor blade. But, when

Gaugin turned around, Vincent turned and ran home.

Gaugin decided that this threat was too much for him to

take, so he checked into a hotel room for the night. When

Paul Gaugin arrived at home the next morning, he saw a

crowd of police officers and citizens surrounding the house.

When he went in the house he saw that there was blood

everywhere- on towels and blankets, then a trail leading up

the stairs. When he got to Vincent"s bedroom, he found

him curled up on his bed covered in sheets pink with blood.

Gaugin thought Vincent was dead, but when he went to

touch his friend"s hand, it radiat! ed warmth from his

friend"s body (Sweetman 290). Gaugin found out later that

Vincent had cut off almost his whole left ear, wrapped it in

newspaper, and given it to his friend Rachel. He then said

"Guard this object carefully" (Sweetman 293). Some

reasons speculated for this unusual self-destruction were: 1.

Schizophrenia 2. He failed to harm Paul Gaugin so he

turned the violence on himself? 3. He was just filled with

self-loathing? It was later discovered that he was tormented

by voices and was having hallucinations. Had he attempted

to silence the voices by cutting off the offending organ?

(Sweetman 294) Vincent van Gogh began having nervous

attacks in 1888, and his doctor diagnosed him with having

some sort of epilepsy. He then went back to painting

(Sweetman 296). Vincent was fully conscious of his state,

and after about four months he went to live at the asylum of

St. Paul-de-Mausole. He left the asylum after a few months

and returned to painting again. But the nervous attacks did

not stop. Then in 1890 when he realized that his epileptic

state was incurable, he committed suicide (Sweetman 303).

On July 27, 1890, Vincent van Gogh attempted suicide-

but he didn"t die. After lunch, Vincent went to Chateau

d"Auvers. He leaned his easel against a haystack, and went

down to the Chateau wall. He held a revolver to his chest,

pulled the trigger, and fainted. When he came to, he

searched for the weapon he had used, but could not find it.

So he got up and walked to a friend"s house in town

(Sweetman 341). The friends called a doctor, and the

doctor dressed the bullet wound. No vital organ including

the heart had been hit. But the doctors decided that if

Vincent wanted to die, they would let him. He was not

taken to a hospital, and the doctors left (Sweetman 342).

On July 28, 1890, Theodore, Vincent"s brother came to

where Vincent was staying. Though he was in good

condition, as the day wore on, infection set in Because

doctors believed that leaving the wound alone and not

taking out the bullet would make it heal faster. There was a

period where suffocation was near as he struggled for

breath. When Theodore realized that his only brother was

dying, he got on the bed beside Vincent and cradled his

head in his arms. "I wish I could pass away like this,"

Vincent said. Half an hour later, his last wish was granted.

Vincent van Gogh died at 1:30 in the morning, July 29,

1890 (Sweetman 343). James Douglas Morrison was the

lead singer in the very popular late 1960"s rock group "The

Doors." He was born in 1943, and he died in 1971. His

long list of accomplishments includes his albums: The Doors

January, 1967 Strange Days October, 1967 Waiting for

the Sun July, 1968 The Soft Parade July, 1969 Morrison

Hotel February, 1970 Absolutely Live July, 1970 13

November, 1970 L.A. Woman April, 1971 These albums

were all made with "The Doors" (Riordan-Prochnicky

515). On July 2, 1971, Jim and his wife Pamela were

sleeping in their Paris apartment, when Jim awoke coughing

and complaining of chest pains, and decided to take a bath.

When Pam woke at about 5 a.m. on July 3, Jim hadn"t

come back to bed. She checked in the bathroom and saw

him still in the tub. Then she realized the horrible truth- he

was dead (Riordan-Prochnicky 451). There were many

different reasons speculated about the cause of his death:

Respiratory Illness Blood clots in his lung Punctured Lungs

Alcoholism Heart Attacks (Riordan-Prochnicky 458) The

official death certificate of Jim Morrison said that he died of

heart failure. But heart failure is not a direct cause of death-

it is a result of something else that causes death

(Riordan-Prochnicky 453). Jim"s death also may have

been a result of the pressures of being a rock star. Around

June of 1971, Jim Morrison made this statement: I"m 27

years old. This is too old to be a rock singer. It doesn"t

make sense anymore. I"m so sick of everything. People

keep thinking of me as a rock"n" roll star and I don"t want

anything to do with it. I can"t stand it anymore

(Riordan-Prochnicky 447). The cause of Jim Morrison"s

death remained unknown for years, but one day in the early

1980"s, an unidentified source came forward and said: On

the night of July 2, 1971, Pam called a very close friend of

mine. She was all in tears and said that Jim had gotten into

her heroin and overdosed. She didn"t want that to come

out, so she worked out a plan and covered it up. This was

later confirmed to be the official cause of Jim Morrison"s

death by Diane Gardiner, who was Pam Morrison"s closest

friend at the time of Jim Morrison"s intentional death

(Riordan-Prochnicky 458). Virginia Stephen Woolf was a

very talented writer who lived from January 25, 1882 to

March 28, 1941. These are some of the books that she has

written: The Voyage Out 1915 Kew Gardens 1919 Mr.

Bennett and Mrs. Brown 1924 The Common Reader 1925

Orlando 1928 A Letter to a Young Poet 1932 The

Common Reader: 2nd Series 1932 The Years 1937 Pointz

Hall (Between the Acts) was finished on February 26,

1941. It was published after her death. She was also

awarded the Femina de Heureuse prize in May of 1928

(Bell 252). On the morning of March 28, 1941, Virginia

wrote both her husband and her sister letters telling them

how important they were to her. She then walked to the

river near her house. Leaving her walking stick on the bank

next to the river, she forced a huge rock into the pocket of

her coat. Then she jumped into the ice cold river- her death

(Bell 226). The only known reason of her suicide is that

World War II was going on and this extremely disturbed

her. It gave her a strange mental illness, and she began to

hear voices. The voices told her to end her life so he did-

by drowning herself. Kurt Donald Cobain was the singer

and lead guitarist in the band "Nirvana." He was born

February 20, 1967, and he died April 8, 1994. Some of

his accomplishments include his 5 albums: Bleach June,

1989 Blew December, 1989 Nevermind September, 1991

Incesticide December, 1992 In Utero September, 1993

These albums were all made by Kurt and the other two

members of Nirvana. Nirvana has also contributed some of

their songs to other albums: "Mexican Seafood" on

Teriyaki Asthma Vol. 1, November, 1989. "Do You Love

Me" on "Kiss" tribute album Hard to Believe. "Beeswax"

on Kill Rock Stars compilation, August, 1991. "Return of

the Rat" on Eight Songs for Greg Sage and the Wipers,

June, 1992. "Verse, Chorus, Verse" on No Alternative

compilation, 1993 (Azzerad 357). Before Kurt Cobain

actually committed suicide, he attempted it once in a hotel

in Rome, Italy, in March of 1994. He fell into a coma after

ingesting a reported 50 tablets of Rohypnol, which is a

powerful depressant. He was very close to death in the

coma, but he came out of it and lived (Azzerad 344).

Around April 6, 1994 Kurt Cobain"s mother filed a missing

person report on Kurt when he ran away from a California

treatment facility. She said that he had bought a shotgun

and he may be suicidal. Then, on April 8, 1994, Kurt

Cobain was found shot to death in his home in Seattle,

Washington. Gary Smith was an electrician who had come

to the house of Kurt Cobain, Kurt"s wife Courtney Love,

and their daughter Francis Bean Cobain to install a security

system, when he found Kurt"s body in the second floor of

the garage with a suicide note nearby. Smith called the

police, and the police could not identify the body, but they

took him to a hospital and a doctor there identified the

body to be that of Kurt Cobain (Maples 7). Kurt Cobain

supposedly had many problems in his life. Some medical

problems were an incurable stomach pain, chronic

bronchitis, and scoliosis. But, there were many reasons that

were theorized for his suicide. He was depressed because:

a) His band was on the verge of breaking up. b) His

marriage to Courtney Love was "on the rocks." But the

reason that many of his fans have found believable was the

fact that he had re-entered his heroin habit that he had just

recently overcome. This was so devastating to him that he

just couldn"t take it and took the easiest way out- suicide

(Maples 7). These artists all have gone to the extreme of

committing suicide. And though many of their works have

been exemplary, the endings of their lives definitely were


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