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San Francisco, California: 52 Famous Artists Who Committed Suicide

Charles R. Smith 211 Lindale Avenue San Francisco, CA 94107

An alphabetical listing of dearly departed artists and art-world bigwigs who chose to leave this world by their own hands. Whenever possible, methods, motivations and mitigating factors have been included. Hyperlinked names indicate a path to an individual's profile. Attempted suicides and gradual suicides by substance abuse have not been included. Nor will you see here the multitudes of artists who unknowingly killed themselves, over time, by licking lead and arsenic off their brushes, or inhaling acid while etching in unventilated rooms.

VISUAL ARTISTS WHO COMMITTED SUICIDE
01 of 52
Alexander, Henry (ca. 1860-1894)
painting of Vincent van Gogh
American painter

Drank carbolic acid.

02 of 52
Arbus, Diane (1923-1971)
American photographer

Took a lethal dose of barbiturates and slashed her wrists.

03 of 52
Blake, Jeremy (1971-2007)
American digital artist, painter

Walked into the Atlantic Ocean and drowned one week after his girlfriend committed suicide.

04 of 52
Bonvin, Léon (1834-1866)
French watercolorist

Hanged himself from a tree in the forest of Meudon, after a Parisian dealer rejected his paintings.

05 of 52
Borromini, Francesco (1599-1667)
Italian architect

Threw himself on a ceremonial sword, then lingered for another 24 hours.

06 of 52 Bugatti, Rembrandt (1884-1916)
Italian sculptor and draftsman

Put on one of his finest suits and gassed himself.

07 of 52
Bupalos and Athenis (active ca. 540-ca. 537 BC)
Greek sculptors

Rumored to have been driven to suicide by the nasty, albeit poetic, written attacks of Hipponax (who apparently didn't like their sculpture of him).

08 of 52 Carrington, Dora (1893-1932)
English painter and decorative artist

Shot herself a few weeks after the death of her companion, Lytton Strachey.

09 of 52 Crevel, René (1900-1935)
French Dada and Surrealist poet

Gassed himself the day before the Congress of Writers for the Defense of Culture met in Paris.

10 of 52 Czigány, Dezsö (1883-1937)
Hungarian painter

Committed suicide in a psychotic fit, but not before killing his family.

11 of 52
Daswanth (active ca. 1560; d 1584)
Indian miniature painter

Stabbed himself with a dagger.

12 of 52 Doort, Abraham van der (1575/80-1640)
Dutch wax-modeler, drawing-master and administrator

Left this world despondent over the thought that he might have misplaced one of Charles I's favorite miniatures.

13 of 52 Fagan, Robert (1761-1816)
English painter, archaeologist and dealer

Jumped out of a window in Rome.

14 of 52
Frank, Jean-Michel (1895-1941)
French designer

Leapt to his death in New York City after having been there for one week. Purely coincidental.

15 of 52
Fries, Ernst (1801-1833)
German draftsman, painter and lithographer

Slit his wrist.

16 of 52
Gagneraux, Bénigne (1756-1795)
French painter and engraver

"Fell" out of a window in Florence.

17 of 52
Gerstl, Richard (1883-1908)
Austrian painter and draftsman

Disemboweled himself with a butcher knife after a brief romantic fling with the wife of the composer Arnold Schoenberg.

18 of 52
Gertler, Mark (1891-1939)
English painter

Tightly sealed up a room and turned on the gas ring.

19 of 52v Gorky, Arshile (1904-1948)
Armenian-born American painter

His studio had burned, his wife had left him, his health was bad and he had no money. He hanged himself. 20 of 52
Greco, Alberto (1915-1965)
Argentine painter, sculptor and performance artist

Overdosed on barbiturates, and left notes about how it felt (for as long as he could, anyway).

21of 52
Gros, Baron Jean-Antoine (1771-1835)
French painter

Drowned himself in the Seine.

22 of 52
Haydon, Benjamin Robert (1786-1846)
English painter, teacher and writer

Shot himself, then cut his throat.

23 of 52
Hébuterne, Jeanne (1898-1920)
French painter

Pregnant with their second child, she leapt from a third-story window two days after her partner, Amedeo Modigliani, died of tuberculosis.

24 of 52 Johnson, Ray (1927-1995)
American painter, collagist and performance artist

Committed "Rayocide" one Friday the 13th by jumping off a Sag Harbor bridge and backstroking away.

25of 52
Kahlo, Frida (1907-1954)
Mexican painter

We're fairly certain she overdosed on painkillers, though the coroner's report read, "pulmonary embolism."

26of 52 Kirchner, Ernst Ludwig (1880-1938)
German painter, printmaker and sculptor

Shot himself after the combination of illness and the termination of his career by the National Socialist Party proved too much.

27 of 52 Kruyder, Herman (1881-1935)
Dutch painter and draftsman

Committed suicide in a psychiatric hospital.

28 of 52 Kurzweil, Max (1867-1916)
Austrian painter and printmaker

On leave from his position as war artist in Istria, he did it in Vienna.

29 of 52
Lombardi, Mark (1951-2000)
American draftsman

Hanged himself in his Williamsburg, New York studio.

30 of 52 Lowthian, Gertrude Margaret (1868-1926)
English architectural historian

Overdosed on sleeping pills in Baghdad.

31 of 52 Malaval, Robert (1937-1980)
French painter and sculptor

Shot himself in the head.

32 of 52 Maurer, Alfred (1868-1932)
American painter

Hanged himself in the doorway of his father's bedroom.

33 of 52 Mayakovsky, Vladimir (1893-1930)
Russian poet, playwright and artist

Shot himself.

34 of 52
Mayer, Constance (1775-1821)
French painter

Cut her throat with the razor of painter Pierre-Paul Prud'hon, who'd been her teacher and then her lover but was not, apparently, going to be her husband.

35of 52 Min Yong-hwan (1861-1905)
Korean calligrapher and painter

Was so strongly opposed to living under the Protection Treaty being enforced by Japan that he decided not to.

36 of 52 Minton, John (1917-1957)
English painter and illustrator

Took an overdose of Tuinal.

37 of 52
Nero (AD 37-68)
Roman art patron and, yes, emperor

Decided stabbing himself in the neck was preferable to being flogged to death.

38 of 52
Pascin, Jules (1885-1930)
American painter, draftsman and printmaker

Hanged himself in his Paris studio, possibly depressed over the reviews of his current show.

39 of 52
Pellizza da Volpedo, Giuseppe (1868-1907)
Italian painter

Hanged himself after the deaths of his wife and son.

40 of 52
Robert, Louis-Léopold (1794-1835)
Swiss painter

Killed himself in Venice, in front of his easel, on the 10th anniversary of his brother's suicide.

41 of 52
Rothko, Mark (1903-1970)
American painter

Slit his wrists in his New York studio.

42 of 52
Seymour, Robert (1800-1836)
English printmaker and painter

Shot himself in the garden at his home in Islington.

43 of 52
Staël, Nicolas de (1914-1955)
French painter

Jumped out of his studio window in Antibes.

44of 52
Stanley, Michael (1975-2012)
English gallery director of Modern Art Oxford, Turner Prize Judge

Hung himself in a friend's garden.

45 of 52
Tilson, Henry (?1659-1695)
English painter and draftsman

Shot himself through the heart with a pistol over the unrequited love of a wealthy patroness.

46 of 52
van Gogh, Vincent (1853-1890)
Dutch painter

Died, two days afterwards, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.

47 of 52
Vaughan, Keith (1912-1977)
English painter

Chose to overdose, rather than live with bowel cancer, kidney disease and depression.

48 of 52
Watanabe Kazan (1793-1841)
Japanese painter

Committed an honorable suicide after a run in with the Tokugawa shogunate (over its isolationist policies) led to his being under house arrest.

49of 52
Witkiewicz, Stanislaw Ignacy (1895-1939)
When the Second Army invaded Poland, he tied himself to his lover, fed her poison and slit his wrists. She regained consciousness. He didn't.

50 of 52
Witte, Emanuel de (1617-1693)
Dutch painter

Said to have drowned himself, after his body was discovered in a frozen canal.

51 of 52
Wood, Christopher (1901-1930)
English painter

Stepped in front of a train.

52 of 52
Xue Ji (AD 649-713)
Chinese calligrapher and scholar-official

Forced to commit suicide after somehow becoming embroiled in a plot to poison the new emperor.

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