David Bruce: The Funniest People in Art — Death, Education

Death

• In the early 20th century, a French landscape painter named Andre Marcellin decided to branch out into portraits. He painted the portrait of a banker, and a few days after the painting was finished, the banker died. He painted the portrait of a woman, and a few days after the painting was finished, the woman died. He painted the portrait of a friend, and a few days after the painting was finished, the friend died. After that, he declined to paint any more portraits for five years. Then he met a woman and became engaged to her. She insisted that he paint her portrait, even though he explained that his portraits were cursed. Eventually he gave in because she told him that she would not marry him unless he painted her portrait. A few days after the painting was finished, she died. Soon afterward, Mr. Marcellin painted his last portrait: a portrait of himself. A few days after the painting was finished, he died.

• In 1955, when she was 95 years old, artist Grandma Moses was interviewed by journalist Edward R. Murrow for his television show See It Now. During the show, Mr. Morrow asked, “What are you going to do for the next 20 years, Grandma Moses?” In reply, she pointed upward and said, “I am going up yonder. Naturally, naturally I should. After you get to be about so old, you can’t expect to go on much further.” Grandma Moses died at age 101. (Mr. Murrow had wanted to do the interview in Grandma Moses’ bedroom, where she did her painting, but she didn’t think any man other than a husband had any business in a lady’s bedroom, so she moved her painting supplies to the living room, where the interview took place.)

• Leon Bakst, a Russian painter and set designer for Sergei Diaghilev’s ballets, once fell in love with a beautiful young Frenchwoman in Paris. He took her to Versailles because he hoped that such a romantic location might make her romantic. They sat down together, Mr. Bakst moved closer to her, and she remarked to him, “What a wonderful place for a suicide.”

• In Highgate Cemetery in London, many tourists visit the grave of Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal, who was the wife and model of the painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti. When she died in 1862, Mr. Rossetti buried some poems with her. However, in 1869, he reconsidered and had her grave dug up so he could retrieve the poems.

Education

• East German gymnast Erika Zuchold quickly discovered another career after leaving gymnastics following the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, where she won silver medals on both vault and uneven bars. As a gymnast, she often drew pictures before and during competitions to reduce her nervousness. In addition, after she tore her Achilles tendon and could not compete in the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, she drew as a means of coping with her disappointment. Fans had sent flowers to her hospital room, and so she drew flowers. Each time she drew the flowers, her drawing became more skilled. After retiring from gymnastics, she studied art education at Karl Marx University in Leipzig. Since then, she has taught art and has had art exhibitions in Germany, Iraq, Spain, and Switzerland.

• Jackson Pollack was an American rebel at a young age. While attending Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles, he distributed an underground newspaper that criticized the values of the school, suggesting that academics should be valued more than football. One sentence of the newspaper stated, “Instead of ‘hit that line,’ we should cry ‘make that grade.’” After being caught twice distributing the underground newspaper, young Jackson was expelled for the rest of the school year. When he returned to school, he was wearing long hair. In pursuit of conformity, some members of the football team forcibly cut his hair.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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