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10 Famous Painters Who Were Alcoholics

Alcohol has a natural allure to creatives, and that's why there's an endless list of famous painters who were alcoholics. These might surprise you, though.

By Ossiana TepfenhartPublished 5 years ago 4 min read

Alcohol and creativity go together—and that's actually scientifically-backed. Studies show that people become more creative when they drink alcohol, which may be why so many creative personalities are known for adoring their drinks.

Writers like Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, and F. Scott Fitzgerald were all known for being alcoholics. Many famous books were written by alcoholic authors.

It's not just a writing thing. Actors regularly get sent to rehab, so it's no surprise that so many scenes in their lives seem to play out like The Great Gatsby.

Very few forms of art are so heavily-linked to alcoholism in the way that fine art is. Some might even go so far as to say that fine art owes its life to the sheer amount of artists who enjoy booze of all forms.

Famous painters who were alcoholics behind the scenes might surprise you. Or they might not. Either way, here's some famous painters, stories about their alcoholism, and what they loved to drink.

Vincent Van Gogh

When it comes to the list of famous painters who were alcoholics, very rarely will you see someone as notorious for their problem like Van Gogh. In the 19th century, Van Gogh was known for being a raging drunk who often would guzzle down glass after glass of absinthe.

How bad was his addiction, you ask? It's often said that the hallucinogen in the absinthe may have been what made him go mad and cut off his own ear.

Jackson Pollock

The man who was known for his classic "drip paintings" remains one of the biggest names in abstract art. Iconic as his style may be, Pollock's work helped bring about a new wave of thinking in the art world during his short time on this planet.

He was a mysterious individual to most, but it was clear he was very troubled as a person. His tumultuous childhood featuring an absentee father was often said to spark the genius ideas that made him so avant-garde.

Jackson Pollock was known to struggle with depression, and used liquor to cope. He died after driving drunk and causing the accident that took his own life.

Frans Hals

Perhaps one of the earliest examples of famous painters who were alcoholics is Frans Hals. This classical painter was known for being a violent drunk who often would beat his wife during his alcohol-fueled outbursts.

He was known for being "filled to the gill with everything," and that if he wasn't home, people need only look towards a local bar to find him.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

One of the greatest Art Nouveau painters of the 19th century was Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. His paintings were known for a relaxed slice of life in of that era of France's history. But, underneath the calming vibe was a little secret.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was one of the many famous artists who were alcoholics. Like many others of his time, his drink of choice was absinthe, which contributed to his early demise.

Toulouse-Lautrec's paintings were said to be "totally painted in absinthe."

Pablo Picasso

Picasso is one of the greatest artists that ever lived, and was known for his ability to remain prolific. If you thought he did it all while sober, you're quite mistaken. Like many other artists of his time, Picasso gained a reputation for his love of absinthe and other alcohols.

Whether you're a fan of his cubism, realism, or surrealism, you have to love his dedication to what he loved. His last words were, "Drink to me, drink to my health. You know I can’t drink anymore.”

Joan Mitchell

The abstract expressionist known as Joan Mitchell was famous for being an "eidetic synesthete." In the art world, she was known for her brash, sometimes overly blunt personality, and for her deeply intelligent remarks about the art world.

Part of Mitchell's Bohemian lifestyle involved drinking heavily—something that she took almost as a badge of honor. That being said, she's one of the most famous painters that were alcoholics in the 70s and 80s.

Mark Rothko

In the post-war era, the absinthe craze had been gone for half a century—but that didn't mean that alcoholism faded out. Mark Rothco, who was known for his "soft" color block paintings in the abstract modern art scene, was a very good example of an alcoholic painter of the mid-20th century.

He also battled addiction to anti-depressants. When he attempted suicide, he tried to kill himself by an overdose of both, proving the infinite loop of drinking and depression.

George Montgomery

In the 1960s, cowboy legend George Montgomery was one of the more popular Western actors out there. But, did you know he was a sculptor, a painter, and an overall creative person too?

Sadly, he was also a major alcoholic. He famously noted that he started drinking when he was 13, and didn't stop until he was 53. That's pretty telling.

Paul Gauguin

French impressionist Paul Gaugin is often cited as one of the greatest artistic geniuses in history. A contemporary of many other famous painters who were alcoholics, Gaugin proved himself to be a massive fan of absinthe.

When he wasn't day-drinking absinthe, he was having a glass of wine at the dinner table. You know, because he's French, and that's kind of what French artists are known for.


About the Creator

Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer based out of New Jersey. This is her work account. She loves gifts and tips, so if you like something, tip her!

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