Sunday, November 04, 2007

Art and Longevity

Picasso did 165 paintings in his 87th year and he lived to be 91, so I think we can assume that making art was good for him. But is this true for artists in general?
I thought about this last night while I was looking at a book of self-portraits by British women artists, and decided to try an experiment. I took the life spans of the artists who were no longer living—32 of them from 1633 to 1953—and came up with an average of 73 years.

I’m at the age now where 73 doesn’t sound that great. But as usual, an average never provides us with the real picture. For one thing, even though five of the women died in their seventies, no one actually expired at 73; and for another, over half of them lived longer than that.
In fact, you had a better chance of dying in your eighties or even your nineties than in your seventies. Nine of them died between 81 and 87 and seven were over ninety when they passed on! So I think we can assume that art making must have made a positive contribution to their longevity. Then again, if your number comes up, it comes up, so maybe the whole point is: we don’t know when we’re going to go so it’s important to make the most of right now.

1 comment:

A bird in the hand said...

For sure.
It's the activity that keeps one going. A recipe for longevity is to be interested in life and do something you enjoy....and eat a banana every day!