37/5000 World famous artists with disabilities
Today experts use contemporary portraits to assume that Michelangelo Buonarroti’s (1475 – 1564) hands were exposed to painful deformations from working on frescoes and sculptures and that he suffered from osteoarthritis. The strenuous work wore out his bones and joints, but didn’t stiffen them. In a letter to his nephew in 1552 he wrote that he had pain and problems with writing.
Despite this pain, he worked on his works of art until he was almost 89 years old.
Goya (1746 – 1828) was probably one of the best painters of his time. His pictures are often divided according to the criterion before and after his illness in 1792/1793. He never commented on it himself. While his early works were realistic, after his illness they were inspired by existential depression and his works became more dramatic and imaginative. His illness did not limit his creativity but changed it.
Today it is believed that his problems were caused by syphilis . He suffered from dizziness, headaches, vision problems, hearing loss and movement disorders in his right arm. Goya ointments made with mercury, a poisonous substance, were used to treat syphilis. Many of the paints he used contained lead and, together with the treatment of syphilis, made his health deteriorate. Goya lost weight and became depressed. But that didn’t stop him from continuing to work. Then he went deaf too.
The German painter, poet and philosopher Paul Klee (1879-1940) suffered from a mysterious illness from 1935 onwards, which manifested itself in changes in his skin and problems with his internal organs. This disease arguably influenced both the style and themes of about 90 of his later works. In these, a spirituality should be reflected through one’s own painful experiences. In 1940 he died of this disease which many years later could be diagnosed as scleroderma.
Vincent Van Gogh
Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) was born with a brain lesion. During his lifetime as well as posthumously, doctors made a wide variety of diagnoses such as epilepsy, schizophrenia, Meniere’s disease, bipolar disorder, anxiety-happiness psychosis and syphilis. Today one attributes his hallucinations and impaired consciousness to his intensive consumption of absinthe and his poor diet. He should i.a. have been treated with thimble, the side effects of which are yellow spots. Therefore, some experts assume that this is why he used the color yellow so much in his works.
During his manic phases he created works of art like an obsessive man on an assembly line. This was followed by a depressive phase which led to the suspicion of bipolar disorder.
In 1941 Henri Matisse (1869-1954) found out about his cancer. After the operation, he was forced to use a wheelchair. But he did not give and called the last 14 years of his life “une seconde vie” – a second life.
He had to adapt his artistic work to his handicap and with the help of an assistant began to create works of art from colored paper forms. The works of this creative period are among his most influential.