All artists, no matter their metier—paint or piano, theater or literature—share a single subject: that is, LIFE. Through their imaginations and their inclinations, they process this world that we live in and share something brand new for us to visit with, often opening new windows of perception in our own minds as we follow along.
Then it stands to reason that there might wisdom they could shed But what do we learn from them as they approach death?
This is the interesting question posed by Chicago Tribune reporter and columnist Christopher Borrelli, in his article “What do the last works of artists tell us?" He writes:
“So strong is the hold of death that we read closely into the last works of artists who died unexpectedly, looking for clues to what’s coming. Even the last work of artists who kill themselves — acts that are not always planned — send us scrambling to comprehend the unraveling.”
Borrelli touches briefly upon the last works of dozens of artists, from Vincent Van Gogh and Ursula K. LeGuin to Denis Johnson and Daniel Day-Lewis. (Never fear, Daniel Day-Lewis has not yet died! But he did just put a definitive endcap on his career.)
Hop on over to read his interesting insights on what artists bring to bear.
“An uncanny clarity, a tight boiling down of everything an artist represented, seems to coalesce before death. The last work may become meaningful simply because it is the last, and not necessarily the best, yet death has a centrality tough to ignore.”