Very often, artists and their art get recognition after their time. The term 'artist' here is not restricted to painters alone, but extends to musicians, writers, performance artists etc. The disregard for these artists and their art stems from deep within the societies they were in; the ones that dismissed the dreamers that stood out from the rest of the community. However, in death, the voices of the struggling artists were finally heard.
The most classic example of an artist who was completely disregarded during his lifetime is Vincent Van Gogh. Van Gogh still remains one of the greatest painters of all time but he was able to sell a single painting while he was alive. He struggled with a mental illness and was struck by poverty. His paintings were shunned for being reckless and messy whereas this very style of painting is what made him stand out. Van Gogh died a lonely death. His paintings, however, found a new lease of life after his death and became immensely popular. Van Gogh was not in it for the fame or glory. Painting was probably his only means of expression and that aspect made his art stand the test of time. On November 3, 2017, the world was introduced to the first ever fully painted feature film title Loving Vincent. The movie depicted Van Gogh's last few days before his tragic death.
A common perception that persists is the relation of tragedy to art and that the conflict inside an artist is what creates those masterpieces. Unfortunately, this is often the reason why artists and writers among other creative people tend to withdraw themselves from the rest of the world. Artists are often termed as outcasts simply because they are different. Their creations may be well ahead of their time and often misunderstood for their quality. John Keats was one such poet who received harsh criticism for his poems. However, today, he is one of the most cherished and well-regarded poets whose poems are still widely read and studied. Another well-known poet, Sylvia Plath's notoriety in attempting suicide many times does not diminish the quality of her poems and her work is still popular.
That brings us to the question—why aren’t contemporary writers and artists given the same importance as older ones?
There is something about death that shakes up the living. It is like a cold reminder of what was neglected and how it’s too late to rectify that. This leads to an outpouring of affection after their death. In the digital age, “RIP” posts flood social media as a sense of nostalgia kicks in. Recently, the death of 28-year-old Swedish EDM artist Avicii saw an outpouring of grief and love from fans. Throwback playlists took over the internet and television for sometime but quietened down after a few days.
The fickle-mindedness of human beings makes it easy to jump from one thing to another. One day the internet may be mourning the loss of a famous person whereas the next, it may be raving about a new movie. Artists make a larger impact with their death. It gives a kind of validation that transcends over time and is carried forward to the rest of the world. People prefer looking at the past than what’s right before them.