25 Interesting Facts About Famous Artists You May Not Know

Fine artists often are a breed apart…creative and visionary. Yet sometimes they are no more or less quirky than any other average human being. It’s that creativity and vision that often comes into play when a new fact about an artist comes to light. The following 25 interesting facts about famous artists you may not know (or may know very well) show that artists, like anyone else, often lead interesting lives.

  1. John James AudubonJohn James Audubon painted 435 watercolors of birds in his lifetime. Born on the Caribbean island of Santo Domingo in 1784, Audubon moved to the United States in 1802, where he fell in love with birds and made it his life’s work to paint a picture of every species of bird in America.
  2. Georges Braque was the first living person to have art displayed in Louvre.
  3. Paul Cezanne was the illegitimate love child born to a profitable merchant, Auguste Cezanne and his innocent young mistress, Anne-Elisabeth-Honorine Auburt. Paul Cezanne died a lonely death on October 22, 1906 after contracting pneumonia. He was surrounded by crates of unsold paintings and unpaid bills.
  4. Leonardo da Vinci was a vegetarian and animal rights activist, he would buy caged birds and set them free. Leonardo left fewer than 30 paintings, and these aren’t even all finished; however, he also left hundreds of drawings, sketches, and pages of notes.
  5. Salvador Dali believed he was his dead brother’s reincarnation. There is also a portrait or a silhouette of Dali in every one of his paintings. He produced over 1500 paintings, many of them regarded as masterpieces, and pretty much single handily kept the mainstream surrealist movement alive.
  6. Edgar Degas was so fascinated with ballet dancers that he became obsessed with representing them in his art. It is estimated Degas made approximately 1500 paintings, pastels, prints and drawings of dancers.
  7. Marcel Duchamp created art from everyday objects. He made about twenty of these pieces; but, by far the most famous example is a work called Fountain, which is nothing more than a urinal he purchased. When it came time to display his creation at an art show, the board in charge of the exhibit had a fierce debate and eventually chose to hide the display from view, presumably in the washroom.
  8. Paul Gauguin once worked on the Panama Canal.
  9. Damien Hirst, also known as the “bad boy of Brit Art,” directed the music video of “Country House” by the band Blur .
  10. Sky Mirror by Anish KapoorAnish Kapoor has his fans; however, an art collector of the Indian-born British sculptor recently was awarded £350,000 in damages after an art storage company mistook one piece of work for rubbish and threw it away.
  11. Tim Knowles, a British artist, attaches pens to trees and lets the wind do the rest of the work. They produce some interesting results, too.
  12. Henri Matisse‘s work, Le Bateau, was put the right way up after hanging upside-down for 46 days without anyone noticing at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, America.
  13. Piet Mondrian often worked on paintings until his hands were blistered and he was in tears of frustration. It’s impossible to deny Mondrian’s influence on the world of art, but it is difficult to understand why straight lines and grids might have frustrated him so easily.
  14. Claude Monet had a father who disapproved of his painting, as he wanted him to be a grocer.
  15. William Morris had a happy childhood. He was spoiled by everyone, and was rather temperamental, a trait that he carried into his adulthood. He would throw his dinner out of the window if he did not approve of the manner in which it had been prepared.
  16. Georgia O’Keeffe began losing her sight at age 84. At this point oin her life, she only had peripheral sight because of irreversible eye degeneration disease. Because of this condition, she stopped painting in 1972. A young potter, named Juan Hamilton, came to her ranch in 1973 and later became her companion, confidante, and business manager until she died.
  17. Pablo Picasso: Picasso was baptized Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Martyr Patricio Clito Ruíz y Picasso (27 names!). The “Picasso” came from his mother, Maria Picasso y Lopez. His father was Jose Ruiz Blasco. Pablo Picasso’s first word was the Spanish word for pencil.
  18. Jackson Pollock often used cigarettes to paint.
  19. Auguste Rodin‘s work, Age of BronzeThe Age of Bronze, was so realistic people though he sacrificed a real person inside the cast.
  20. Peter Paul Rubens was knighted by both Philip IV, King of Spain, and Charles I, King of England.
  21. Vincent Van Gogh had an older brother who died at birth. His name also was Vincent van Gogh. In a short period of ten years Van Gogh made approximately 900 paintings. Vincent’s brother’s wife collected Vincent’s paintings and letters after his death and dedicated herself to getting his work the recognition it deserved.
  22. Johannes Vermeer used a forerunner of the camera during the 16th century, known as the Camera Obscura. While camera work is frowned upon by many fine artists today, Vermeer used images from that camera to project the scene he was to paint onto his canvas.
  23. George Vlosich offers one-of-a kind Etch A Sketch art. He is shown in a video drawing LeBron James. This five-hour task is sped up so that you can see every line he makes and step he takes to create a unique piece of pop art. This piece of artwork was created for the Quicken Loans Arena.
  24. Andy Warhol, at the end of every month, would seal a box and add a date to it to create “time capsules.” Some of those box items might include objects such as a mummified foot, Caroline Kennedy’s birthday cake, a 17th-century German book on wrestling and drawings of 1950s icons such as Jean Harlow’s dress or Clark Gable’s boots.
  25. Willard Wigan, an English artist, works between heartbeats so he doesn’t destroy the piece he is creating. He uses rice or grains of sand and a surgical blade to create his “micro sculptures.”