'Resting Place' by Nicole Holder (2017), courtesy of BRUSHWRK user colebound
According to a study carried out by the Canadian Mental Health Association, mental health issues affect nearly half of the global population at some point by age 40. Thanks to the increased destigmatisation of discussions around depression, anxiety, angst, grief and loneliness, the relatively recent question of whether art can be good for your mental health has been popping up. However, art and mental health have always been strongly associated together, albeit with this relationship taking on a different nature over the years. For centuries, the darker emotions and more complicated parts of the human psyche served as an inspiration to artists.
The myth and aggrandization of the "mad artist" are commonly associated with Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) who was known to have severed his own ear during a heated fight with fellow artist Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), and later sent the remnants to a maid working at a brothel later identified as Gabrielle Berlatier.
'Self-portrait with bandaged Ear' by Vincent van Gogh (1889) © The Samuel Courtauld Trust, Courtauld Gallery, London
Another example of a famous artist associated with mental suffering is Edvard Munch (1863-1944). Munch, widely known for his painting 'The Scream' consistently drew on emotional turmoil. Some of his other paintings such as 'The Sick Child and Anxiety' similarly drew on these emotions.
'The Scream' by Edvard Munch (1910), courtesy of Wikimedia Commons