History Quiz / Only the Good (Artists) Die Young

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Can you name the Artists who had untimely deaths?

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Date, Age of DeathPainterInformation
1401–1428: 27Nothing is known of this master Florentine painter of the early Italian Renaissance, until 1421. In seven years, he transformed art with his mastery of linear perspective and use of chiaroscuro—dramatic light and dark, i.e., he could create the illusion of three-dimensions, as in his fresco of the expulsion from Eden.
1478–1510: 32Little is known about this High Renaissance Venetian credited with having introduced the practice of painting with pigments that had been mixed with oil and flexible resins on canvas, which resulted in a luminous, jewel-like effect. Only five paintings reasonably attributed to him survive. Died of plague.
1483–1520: 37A High Renaissance painter and architect, he was considered a master painter by the age of 17. He painted the private apartment of the Pope: The School of Athens, which includes 52 figures set within a grand, vaulted architectural structure that gives an unrivaled illusion of depth in this period; died when falling ill from a night of passion, he didn't tell his doctor, and was given the wrong treatment.
1684–1721: 37An artist of the Rococo period, his fame arose from his Fêtes Galantes, whimsical and theatrical paintings of Frenchmen and women outdoors singing, dancing, flirting, and relaxing with one another. His fantastical, shimmering compositions were influential across the arts, in poetry, theater, and costume. He was sickly and frail for many years, some say since childhood, and died probably from tuberculosis.
1791–1824: 33At age 21 he entered his first Salon competition with Charging Chasseur, a nearly 12-foot-tall painting, winning the gold medal. His best-known painting is The Raft of the Medusa. The effort of such an enormous work caused him to suffer a nervous breakdown. His health continued to fail. Nearing his end, he sketched preparatory drawings for several large-scale paintings, which, of course, were never realized.
1859–1891: 31This founder of neo-Impressionism and creator of Pointillism (applying paint as tiny dots to capture the maximum concentration of color), counteracting the practices of the Impressionists, had a controversial 9-year career. His Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte may be one of the most recognized works of art in the Western world. He died suddenly, possibly from meningitis, at the height of his career.
1853–1890: 37This artist whose works now bring in tens of millions of dollars, sold only one painting in his short life. A prolific painter and letter writer, his correspondence has been used to interpret his work. They also provided insight into the emotional struggles which eventually led to his suicide by gunshot.
1884–1920: 35Famous Italian portraitist afflicted by a tubercular lung was ill throughout his short life. To ease his pain, he abused alcohol and drugs. He was not successful in his lifetime, but earned his fame posthumously. When he died from a bout of tubercular meningitis, his lover and muse, painter Jeanne Hébuterne, killed herself and their unborn child the the following day by jumping from their apartment window.
1890–1918: 28Austrian Expressionist. Overtly erotic images of children who sat for him in the nude led to an arrest on charges of raping a minor. The charges were reduced to offenses against morality, but his work was toned down after that. He was drafted in WW I, but was able to continue to paint. Had enormous success at the 49th Vienna Secession. However, a few months after the exhibition he died from Spanish influenza.
1936–1970: 34After fleeing Nazi persecution and enduring her mother’s suicide, she pursued art, attending excellent schools on scholarships. Studied under Josef Albers at Yale. Known for creating sculptural works with unusual materials. As her career was taking off, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor, died within a year.
1928–1962: 34A megalomaniac, he believed himself destined for greatness. Known for monochromatic paintings and provocative installations, such as a display of 11 canvases painted all blue which gestured toward Picasso: “Monochrome Propositions: Blue Period.” Staged an exhibition called “The Void,” an empty gallery with freshly painted walls; forerunner of Postmodernism. Died suddenly of his third heart attack in two months.
1958–1990: 32Covering NYC with graffiti, his quirky figural imagery won a following. Began creating large-scale murals across the world, often recruiting children to help. He opened The Pop Shop, but a year later was diagnosed with AIDS. He worked furiously, creating as much art as possible and set up a foundation.
1960–1988: 27Self-taught, fiercely independent, the graffiti he and his circle of friends left all over NYC under the name SAMO (“same old sh*t”) caught the attention of the art world. He emerged from the underground and became an art star overnight. He became friends with Andy Warhol and found himself the subject of articles in major publications. At the height of this frenzy, he was found dead from a heroin overdose.

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