62 Famous Artists Who Killed Themselves
An alphabetical listing of dearly departed artists and art-world bigwigs who chose to leave this world by their own hands. Whenever possible, methods, motivations and mitigating factors have been included. Hyperlinked names indicate a path to an individual's profile. Attempted suicides and gradual suicides by substance abuse have not been included. Nor will you see here the multitudes of artists who - unknowingly - killed themselves, over time, by licking lead and arsenic off their brushes, or inhaling acid while etching in unventilated rooms.
Hint: Use Ctrl+F (Windows) or Cmd+F (Mac) to locate an artist in the list more quickly.
- Visual Artists Who Committed Suicide
Alexander, Henry (ca. 1860-1894)
- Drank carbolic acid.
Arbus, Diane (1923-1971)
- Took a lethal dose of barbiturates and slashed her wrists.
Blake, Jeremy (1971-2007)
American digital artist, painter
- Walked into the Atlantic Ocean and drowned one week after his girlfriend committed suicide.
Bonvin, Léon (1834-1866)
- Hanged himself from a tree in the forest of Meudon, after a Parisian
dealer rejected his paintings.
Borromini, Francesco (1599-1667)
- Threw himself on a ceremonial sword, then lingered for
another 24 hours.
Bugatti, Rembrandt (1884-1916)
Italian sculptor and draftsman
- Put on one of his finest suits and gassed himself.
Bupalos and Athenis (active ca. 540-ca. 537 BC)
- Rumored to have been driven to suicide by the nasty, albeit poetic,
written attacks of Hipponax (who apparently didn't like their sculpture of him).
Carrington, Dora (1893-1932)
English painter and decorative artist
- Shot herself a few weeks after the death of her companion,
Crevel, René (1900-1935)
French Dada and Surrealist poet
- Gassed himself the day before the Congress of Writers for the Defense
of Culture met in Paris.
Czigány, Dezsö (1883-1937)
- Committed suicide in a psychotic fit, but not before killing his family.
Daswanth (active ca. 1560; d 1584)
Indian miniature painter
- Stabbed himself with a dagger.
Doort, Abraham van der (1575/80-1640)
Dutch wax-modeler, drawing-master and administrator
- Left this world despondent over the thought that
he might have misplaced one of Charles I's favorite miniatures.
Fagan, Robert (1761-1816)
English painter, archaeologist and dealer
- Jumped out of a window in Rome.
Frank, Jean-Michel (1895-1941)
- Leapt to his death in New York City after having been there for one week.
Fries, Ernst (1801-1833)
German draftsman, painter and lithographer
- Slit his wrist.
Gagneraux, Bénigne (1756-1795)
French painter and engraver
- "Fell" out of a window in Florence.
Gerstl, Richard (1883-1908)
Austrian painter and draftsman
- Disemboweled himself with a butcher knife after a brief romantic
fling with the wife of the composer Arnold Schoenberg.
Gertler, Mark (1891-1939)
- Tightly sealed up a room and turned on the gas ring.
Gorky, Arshile (1904-1948)
Armenian-born American painter
- His studio had burned, his wife had left him, his health was bad and
he had no money. He hanged himself.
Greco, Alberto (1915-1965)
Argentine painter, sculptor and performance artist
- Overdosed on barbiturates, and left notes
about how it felt (for as long as he could, anyway).
Gros, Baron Jean-Antoine (1771-1835)
- Drowned himself in the Seine.
Haydon, Benjamin Robert (1786-1846)
English painter, teacher and writer
- Shot himself, then cut his throat.
Hébuterne, Jeanne (1898-1920)
- Pregnant with their second child, she leapt from a third-story window
two days after her partner, Amedeo Modigliani, died of tuberculosis.
Johnson, Ray (1927-1995)
American painter, collagist and performance artist
- Committed "Rayocide" one Friday the 13th by jumping off a Sag Harbor
bridge and backstroking away.
Kahlo, Frida (1907-1954)
- We're fairly certain she overdosed on painkillers, though the coroner's report
read, "pulmonary embolism."
Kirchner, Ernst Ludwig (1880-1938)
German painter, printmaker and sculptor
- Shot himself after the combination of illness and the termination of his career
by the National Socialist Party proved too much.
Kruyder, Herman (1881-1935)
Dutch painter and draftsman
- Committed suicide in a psychiatric hospital.
Kurzweil, Max (1867-1916)
Austrian painter and printmaker
- On leave from his position as war artist in Istria, he did it in Vienna.
Lombardi, Mark (1951-2000)
- Hanged himself in his Williamsburg, New York studio.
Lowthian, Gertrude Margaret (1868-1926)
English architectural historian
- Overdosed on sleeping pills in Baghdad.
Malaval, Robert (1937-1980)
French painter and sculptor
- Shot himself in the head.
Maurer, Alfred (1868-1932)
- Hanged himself in the doorway of his father's bedroom.
Mayakovsky, Vladimir (1893-1930)
Russian poet, playwright and artist
- Shot himself.
Mayer, Constance (1775-1821)
- Cut her throat with the razor of painter Pierre-Paul Prud'hon, who'd been her
teacher and then her lover but was not, apparently, going to be her husband.
Min Yŏng-hwan (1861-1905)
Korean calligrapher and painter
- Was so strongly opposed to living under the Protection Treaty being enforced
by Japan that he decided not to.
Minton, John (1917-1957)
English painter and illustrator
- Took an overdose of Tuinal.
Nero (AD 37-68)
Roman art patron and, yes, emperor
- Decided stabbing himself in the neck was preferable to being flogged to death.
Pascin, Jules (1885-1930)
American painter, draftsman and printmaker
- Hanged himself in his Paris studio, possibly depressed over the reviews of
his current show.
Pellizza da Volpedo, Giuseppe (1868-1907)
- Hanged himself after the deaths of his wife and son.
Robert, Louis-Léopold (1794-1835)
- Killed himself in Venice, in front of his easel, on the 10th anniversary of his
Rothko, Mark (1903-1970)
- Slit his wrists in his New York studio.
Seymour, Robert (1800-1836)
English printmaker and painter
- Shot himself in the garden at his home in Islington.
Staël, Nicolas de (1914-1955)
- Jumped out of his studio window in Antibes.
Stanley, Michael (1975-2012)
English gallery director of Modern Art Oxford, Turner Prize Judge
- Hung himself in a friend's garden.
Tilson, Henry (?1659-1695)
English painter and draftsman
- Shot himself through the heart with a pistol over the unrequited love
of a wealthy patroness.
van Gogh, Vincent (1853-1890)
- Died, two days afterwards, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.
Vaughan, Keith (1912-1977)
- Chose to overdose, rather than live with bowel cancer, kidney disease
Watanabe Kazan (1793-1841)
- Committed an honorable suicide after a run in with the Tokugawa shogunate
(over its isolationist policies) led to his being under house arrest.
Witkiewicz, Stanislaw Ignacy (1895-1939)
Polish writer, art theorist, painter and photographer
- When the Second Army invaded Poland, he tied himself to his lover, fed her
poison and slit his wrists. She regained consciousness. He didn't.
Witte, Emanuel de (1617-1693)
- Said to have drowned himself, after his body was discovered in a frozen canal.
Wood, Christopher (1901-1930)
- Stepped in front of a train.
Xue Ji (AD 649-713)
Chinese calligrapher and scholar-official
- Forced to commit suicide after somehow becoming embroiled in a
plot to poison the new emperor.