9 Great Works of Art Inspired by Heartache

1.  Gravestone by Jean Michel Basquiat, 1987

Inconsolable after hearing of the death of his semi-estranged friend, Andy Warhol, Basquiat created Gravestone as a tribute.

 Gravestone.  Image from WikiArt

Gravestone.  Image from WikiArt

2. Candle in the Wind (1997 version) by Elton John

In another strained friendship not resolved before death, Elton John re-wrote his 1973 classic (for Marilyn Monroe) to honor his late friend, Princess Diana.  He would later win a Grammy for his ode to England's Rose.

 Elton John performing at Princess Diana's funeral in Westminster Abbey.  Image from Billboard

Elton John performing at Princess Diana's funeral in Westminster Abbey.  Image from Billboard

3. Take Care of Yourself by Sophie Calle, 2007

Videos, photographs, and letters spanning a love affair of Calle's that ended with an e-mail she received.  The last, very corporate, line of the e-mail read, "take care of yourself."

 Take Care of Yourself. Image from Paula Cooper Gallery

Take Care of Yourself. Image from Paula Cooper Gallery

4. A Few Small Nips (Passionately in Love), Frida Kahlo, 1935

Kahlo painted A Few Small Nips after reading an article about a jealous lover murdering his cheating wife and defending himself by saying, "It was only a few small nips!"  Kahlo was also inspired by the pain of discovering her legendarily philandering husband, Diego Rivera, having an affair with her sister. 

 A Few Small Nips. Image from FridaKahlo.org

A Few Small Nips. Image from FridaKahlo.org

5. Albert Memorial, 1872

Queen Victoria commissioned the Gothic revival piece by Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1872 as a way to honor her late, beloved Prince Albert who died of typhoid in 1861.

 Albert Memorial Image from Pinterest

Albert Memorial Image from Pinterest

6. Camille on Her Deathbed, Claude Monet, 1879

His wife and regular model, impressionist Claude Monet was devastated when the beautiful, sophisticated Camille passed.  Well acquainted with the French art scene (as a painter's model), Camille was the source of much joy and support for Monet during their 14 year relationship.

 Camille on Her Deathbed. Image from Sartle

Camille on Her Deathbed. Image from Sartle

7. Self-Portrait With Bandaged Ear, Vincent van Gogh, 1889

Perhaps the most famous unrequited love story, Vincent van Gogh's infatuation (and untreated syphilis) led to his self-mutilation, but also one of the most moving self-portraits in art.

 Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear. Image from Courtauld

Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear. Image from Courtauld

8. W.B. Yeats and Maud Gonne

For five decades, Yeats used his infatuation with the "beautiful, brainy, feminist Irish revolutionary," Maud Gonne, who advocated the killing of Protestant children, for some of his greatest literature.  Other women in his life describe her as less than attractive, but she inspired Yeats for years.

 Maud Gonne. Image from The New York Times

Maud Gonne. Image from The New York Times

9. "The Little Mermaid" Hans Christian Andersen, 1837

Meant as a love letter to the aristocratically handsome Edvard Collin after his engagement, Andersen's little mermaid fares far worse than her Disney version.  In the original story, the mermaid (who is unnamed), and seen as a stand-in for Andersen, must stab and kill the prince she has fallen in love with in order to be a mermaid again.  After seeing his happiness with his bride, she decides to throw the knife into the sea and is absorbed as a spirit of the ocean.

 

 Edvard Collin and wife.  Image from VisitHCAndersen.dk

Edvard Collin and wife.  Image from VisitHCAndersen.dk