Society places value on limited editions and relics with few remaining counterparts. In economics, this is called scarcity value, and it is one of the reasons you have to die to be a famous artist. In the business world, people will buy stock based on its predicted future value. Likewise, an artist may experience more notoriety and a higher price for their artwork in the few years prior to their death. It is predicted that the value of the art will rise in the near future because there will be no more opportunities for the artist to paint. It will become scarce.
Dying Young vs. Dying Old
If an artist dies young, he or she may lack the portfolio size and the time in the art scene to develop fame. Alternatively, older artists are able to experience some of their fame because the exposure of their art has been long-term. Following death, the young and the old artist’s artwork may become famous.
Do You Have to Die to Be a Famous Artist?
Obviously, you don’t have to die to become a famous artist. Georgia O’Keefe was famous long before her death, as was Frida Kahlo and Thomas Kinkade. However, time will tell if these artists rise among the greats like Vincent Van Gogh, Leonardo da Vinci, or Titian.
What is Fame?
Determining whether or not you have to die to be famous requires a definition of fame. Jackson Pollock is definitely critically-acclaimed, but will his expressionist artwork survive throughout centuries or dwindle as a blip on the radar as an insignificant nuance? In this way, an artist must die in order for the art the be in existence long enough to have fame.
Additionally, does fame belong to the artist or the artwork? Is a dead artist who becomes famous posthumously deserving of the title? Wouldn’t it instead be an artist who never experienced fame but whose artwork is now appreciated and possibly famous? The semantics may not matter, but it is rather morbid to accept the fate of being average or less-than-average, never knowing if you’ll be famous after death.
An Artist’s Hope
Contrary to the tragic, morbid belief that an artist must die to be famous, maybe it is actually an exercise in optimism. It gives the artists hope that he or she will one day be fully appreciated and understood even if it isn’t in his or her own lifetime. A death of mediocrity is experienced with the hope of fame that arrived too late. The art would continue to breathe the artist’s life to the world long after his or her own breath has extinguished.
Do you have to die to be a famous artist?
I think the examples above prove that you do not have to die to be a famous artists. However, each artist upon their death leaves a legacy that could become famous, and this idea is not as morbid as it is optimistic. My prayer is that I live long enough to enjoy notoriety and leave an awesome legacy to those who have been collecting my work and to my family.
Have a wonderful day with your family & Happy Thanksgiving.
dei gratia, Milessa