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Artists with physical shortcomings that led to their signature work

Jul 31, 2010

Artists with physical shortcomings that led to their signature work

I’m fascinated by the idea that a physical shortcoming or faulty biology is yet another constraint that can lead artists to produce better work. A few examples:

  • Art Spiegelman has amblyopia, or “lazy eye,” which flattens depth perception. He says he suspects it’s one of the reasons he’s a cartoonist—because the world looks flat to him
  • The guitarist Django Reinhardt lost the use of 2 of his fretting fingers, and played all of his solos with two fingers
  • Tommy Iommi, guitar player for Black Sabbath, after he lost fingertips in an industrial accident, was inspired by Django, and formed homemade prosthetics, and detuned his guitars down to C#, so there was less tension on the strings. This detuning is part of what makes Sabbath’s guitars sound so heavy, and thus we have heavy metal
  • Henri Matisse’s failing eyesight and health led him to make his “cut-out” paper collages

Can you think of other artists whose physical shortcomings or disabilities led to their signature work?

44 notes

  1. bandofyouths reblogged this from austinkleon
  2. shabazmataz answered: The Drummer for Def Leppard!
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  7. alivewithlove said: It’s not physical, but it is great.
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