Tortured artist

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Vincent van Gogh, Self-portrait with Bandaged Ear, Easel and Japanese Print, January 1889. Van Gogh, who struggled with poverty and mental illness for most of his life, is regarded as a famous example of the tortured artist.

A tortured artist is a stock character and real-life stereotype who is in constant torment due to frustrations with art, other people, or the world in general.


The trope of the tortured artist seems to have been started by Plato.[1]

Creativity and mental illness have been connected over time. Some mental disorders, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, have helped popular artists with their works.[1][2] One of the most known tortured artists is Vincent Van Gogh, who suffered from psychosis.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Scientists: The 'Tortured Artist' Is a Real Thing". 2015-06-09. Retrieved 2020-03-18.
  2. ^ S4 E22: The Myth of the Tortured Artist | The Art Assignment, 2016-11-02, retrieved 2020-03-18

Further reading[edit]

  • Redfield Jamison, Kay (1996). Touched With Fire. New York: Free Press. ISBN 068483183X. – looks at the relationship between bipolar disorder and artistic creativity. It contains a number of case histories of dead people who are described as probably having suffered from bipolar disorder.