It must be nice to be a famous artist. First of all, you don’t need to get a regular job like the rest of us. Second of all, most of the time you can make utter bullshit and let the critics give meaning to it for you. Third of all, when you die, everyone will remember the last thing you did.
Don’t get me wrong, an artist’s death is a huge tragedy. But imagine being that guy that got the last painting he made before he died. And now tell me you wouldn’t make a little jump for joy. Be honest. You’d be happy. And you’d be a horrible person. But at least a rich horrible person.
While the last thing someone paints is rarely the best, it’s oftentimes just as memorable as their magnum opus for the sheer fact that it was the end of the artistic journey for that person. And the end of all other journeys, but that’s irrelevant. It’s the story of a journey cut short where the abrupt ending was painted on a canvas and sold of insane amounts of cash.
Let’s take a look at the final paintings of some of the greatest artists to ever walk this Earth.
Vincent Van Gogh, Tree Roots (1890)
Granted, his last work could either be this or Wheatfield With Crows. The latter is often considered to be his real last work because this is the place where he killed himself afterwards. Swell fellow, that Vincent.
Pablo Picasso, Self Portrait Facing Death (1972)
Remember kids: if you’re bad at drawing but want to become an artist, call it cubism. Also, kudos to Pablo for picking that name. A true visionary, Pablo grew to be 91 years old and drew until the last day of his life. Still couldn’t properly draw a face for shit, though.
Salvador Dali, The Swallow’s Tail (1983)
This was the last painting Dali did about the Catastrophe Theory, a mathematics theory that studied how small changes in circumstances can lead to shifts in behavior. Dali grew to be 84 years old.
Piet Mondriaan, Victory Boogie Woogie (1944)
As you’d expect from Mondriaan, it’s a square with smaller colored squares in it. But this was his last one. Oh, it was sold for 35 million euros. For a bunch of squares. Thirty-fucking-five million euros!
Rene Magritte, The Empire of Lights (1967)
This one was never finished, so God knows what else he was going to add. Could’ve been anything. Ceci n’est pas une painting, am I right?
Andy Warhol, Last Supper (1986)
There’s just nothing that says “match made in Heaven” like pop art and Jesus. Warhol must’ve thought that if he was going to go out, he had to go out with a pop art version of the last meal Jesus had before he was brutally murdered.
Pieter Breugel The Elder, Storm At Sea (1569)
This Renaissance painter’s last work was an unfinished oil-on-panel painting depicting a bunch of boats during a storm at sea. I guess that’s why he picked that title.
Raphael, The Transfiguration (1520)
Side note: this is not the ninja turtle. I know, I was disappointed too. True to form, Raphael’s last work was a Renaissance painting with Biblical inspiration. It shows Jesus doing that magic trick where it looks like he’s floating and two old men are floating towards him.
Edouard Manet, A Bar At The Folies-Bergère (1882)
One of the pioneers in impressionism, Manet’s last painting was completed a year before his death. He died from gangrene after having his foot chopped off. He had experienced poor blood circulation suffering from locomotor ataxia, a side effect of syphilis. That’s how pretty much everyone died in the first Friday the 13th movie – I mean from gangrene! Only it wasn’t gangrene, it was Jason Voorhees.
Rembrandt, Simeon With The Christ Child In The Temple (1669)
The title of the painting pretty much says it all. It’s Simeon with the Christ child inside of a temple. It’s all a bit fuzzy so I can’t actually identify any of them, but I see no reason for Rembrandt to lie about it.