Artists are known for creating beautiful works of art using a wide range of mediums. What they are not know for though is crime! Despite what you may think, there are many artists that were not only known for their artistic talents, but for their criminal ones too.
Michelangelo Merisi, or Caravaggio, was known for slandering others and starting fights. One time he became infatuated with a working girl and when a rival of his began to see her as well, he challenged him to a duel. At the time duelling was quite common, however Caravaggio was accustomed to a much more dirty and ruthless form of fighting and struck the man’s crotch, in vindictive delight. However, his rival bled out, and Merisi was wanted for murder…
2. Benvenuto Cellini
Cellini was also known for committing violent murders without ever being condemned for his crimes. He even admitted to these crimes in his own autobiography. He got away with it all though, thanks to his contacts in the clergy.
Probably the most famous artist on this list, even Pablo Picasso was a criminal. One of his friends would steal statues and bring them to Picasso’s studio. The artist then utilized the statues by studying their form to incorporate it in his works.
Perhaps not as ruthless as Caravaggio, Banksy’s modern graffiti work is illegal nonetheless. He has left works all over the world in a famously anonymous way. As his acts of vandalism started to be seen as works of art, people stopped complaining about the grafitti and started buying it. In an ironic twist that only Banksy could have foreseen, his crimes are now national treasures.
5. Egon Schiele
Schiele is a very famous Australian artist that created very provocative artwork. His works mainly feature individuals in skimpy lingerie. He became a criminal at the age of 22, for having intercourse with a minor.
6. Fra Filippo Lippi
Lippi was also a bit provocative in the Renaissance era. He seduced an underage girl to whom he had two children with. He was never prosecuted for this, however, due to his fame. His son went on to become an artist himself.
7. Olive Wharry
Wharry was an advocate for women’s rights in twentieth century Britain. At times she took this vocation to the extreme, with actions like burning down the Kew Gardens tea house. She did however face the consequences of her crimes.
8. Shepard Fairey
Fairey is a modern artist who came up with the Andre the Giant “Obey” print he would plaster everywhere. He then came up with the Obama “Hope” street art that was popular during his election. Unlike Banksy, he was arrested in Boston for vandalism and graffiti. More specifically, he was charged with destruction of property.
9. Carlo Crivelli
Crivelli was also provocative in his artwork and in his personal life. He grew up in fourteenth century Venice, where he created artwork for churches of female saints and enlarged fruit. However, he then began having an affair with a married woman and was condemned in Venice for adultery.
10. Richard Dadd
Dadd struggled with mental illnesses in his adult life in Victorian England. Perhaps due to his illness, on returning from a trip to Europe. he murdered his father. He was convicted and forced to spend the remainder of his life in prison and in asylums. However, this life imprisonment did not stop him continuing to produce his artwork.
Which one of the Artistic Criminals surprised you?