By Rick McVicar
“While history has seen stunning inspiration come from recreational drug use, there is an equal – if not greater – amount of tragedy that often befalls the tortured artist.”
Renee Deveney, writing for The Recovery Village website, Nov. 1, 2021, describes a few artists’ addictions in “Five World-Famous Artists and Their Choice of Drugs.” Deveney strongly states that substance abuse hinders brain health even though some world class artists have relied on drugs or alcohol.
Vincent van Gogh and Andy Warhol are both included in Deveney's list of artists.
Van Gogh, a 19-century artist, has had a recent cult following with music and film being produced about his art and personal tragedies. Absinthe, a drink that had a high concentration of alcohol, served as van Gogh’s favorite substance. The drink was popular in the 19th century, Deveney writes.
The artist was so enamored with the drink that he painted a bottle of it in one of his works. However, he admitted to his brother in a letter that he thought his paintings were much better when he was sober, according to Deveney.
Van Gogh’s use of absinthe is confirmed by the Vincent van Gogh Museum’s website. The picture of a bottle of absinthe can be found on the site. Besides drinking strong alcohol, the artist “was very keen on his pipe,” the site states.
Van Gogh would smoke while painting but leave the drinking until after he finished an artwork. The artist wrote that he found the creation of a painting to be to be too tedious of work to drink while he painted, according to the museum’s site.
Andy Warhol is another artist that had trouble with addictions. Deveney notes he depended on obetrol, an amphetamine.
Deveney quotes Warhol as saying, “When people are ready to change, they change… You can’t make them change if they don’t want to.”
John Sewell, writing for The Collector website, adds that obetrol is chemically close to ecstasy. The drug makes a person restless and full of energy. Warhol used the drug so he could produce artwork throughout the night.
Sewell’s article, “Seven Famous Artists Who Experimented with Narcotics,” was posted Sept. 6, 2020.
Please feel free to comment or share on social media. Also, feel free to send me a message on my contact page. I welcome your thoughts.