Art is suffering put to canvas – that’s why it’s called a painting.
Poor jokes aside, many an artist will tell you that there’s a ‘bit of themselves’ in every piece they create. In addition to the time and effort, a huge part of the artistic process is psychological and unconscious in nature. Perhaps that’s why the art world is full of tales of haunted or cursed paintings.
We’ve already discussed a few of the most infamous artistic endeavorers, so if you think there’s something missing, you’ll probably find it there.
Love Letters at the Driskill Hotel
Although it can’t compare to the infamy of The Stanley Hotel, The Driskill Hotel is something of a celebrity in it’s native Austin, Texas. Its reputation is one of finery, with bridal suits, restaurants, ballrooms and, of course, a ghost or two.
The hotel has featured on paranormal reality programs, with tales of forlorn brides and gambling cowboys, but the reason you’ve found it on this list is due to a single piece of art that hangs on the fifth floor.
The painting, titled Love Letters, depicts a rosy cheeked blonde girl, holding a bouquet of roses in one hand and a letter in the other. Despite it’s vintage appearance, it’s a modern piece by Richard King, produced in the 1990s. It’s inspiration, however, comes from an older work by Charles Garland.
Ghost hunters will be keen to tell you that whenever the production, its subject is the four year old daughter of U.S Senator Temple Lea Houston, named Samantha.
According to legend, Samantha met her untimely demise in the Driskill Hotel after – some claim – she fell down the stairs whilst chasing her ball. Although some insist this is a different ghost, unrelated to Samantha.
Whether or not these claims – which I couldn’t verify, myself – are true, the little girl’s expression is said to change, and viewers have reported dizziness and nausea in it’s presence.
The Rain Woman by Svetlana Telets
This creepy painting is actually one of my favourites. Undeniably creepy, `The Rain Woman was said to be created after months of the artist, Svetlana Telets, feeling as though she was being watched. Then, the story goes, she was sitting in front of the blank canvas when the finished work ‘appeared’ to her. Over the next few months, Svetlana refined the painting and The Rain Woman came to life, although she felt her hands being “guided” by an unknown force.
Once the piece was finished, it went through a cycle of purchase and return, with multiple owners claiming the woman would appear in their dreams or in the corners of their eye.
The last apparent sale of the piece was to musician, Sergei Skachko, however it has been reported that his wife has since hidden the painting as it’s arrival coincided with the appearance of a ghostly apparition in their home, as well as arguments between the couple and anomalous breakages.
I’m a huge fan of unconsciously led painting. I think it’s an underrated tool of meditation, shadow work and mediumship, so I’m inclined to believe The Rain Woman’s ghostly goings in are directly linked to its creation. Perhaps Svetlana Telets was channeling an entity onto the canvas? Perhaps she expressed an unconscious part of her own psyche, one that was full of dread, worry and sadness, onto the canvas, and those emotions are forever tied to it. Or, maybe, it’s just a really creepy painting. You decide.
Multiple Works of Arshile Gorky
Arshile Gorky, was an Armenian-born-American-national and artist who died by suicide in 1948. Unfortunately, this was culmination of a lifetime of tragedy, and not the last to be linked to his work.
Born, Vostanik Manoug Adoian in a village known as Khorgom, Armenia, his father emigrated to America, leaving behind his wife and children, who later became refugees during the Armenian genocide. During this time, Gorky’s mother died of starvation in the arms of the then 14 year-old – an event that would go on to influence many of his pieces.
By the time he was 16, he managed to emigrate to America, where he was met by his father’s frosty reception. The two never became close and fell into estrangement.
Landing in America gave Gorky a chance to reinvent himself, taking the Arshile Gorky and claiming to be a Georgian noble, and relative of Russian writer, Maxim Gorky. However, he could not escape the ‘dark life’ his mother warned he would have.
Gorky went one to marry and have two daughters, but by 1946, his world was falling apart and he suffered:
- A fire which burned down his studio, containing his library and over 30 paintings.
- A diagnosis of colon cancer and subsequent colostomy, one month after the devastating fire.
- Discovering his wife, Agnes, was having an affair with fellow artist and family friend. Agnes soon left Gorky and took the couples two children with her.
- A broken neck and arm due to a car accident, in which was caused by his drunken friend. This was a week after Agnes left.
This culminated in Gorky’s aforementioned suicide, but there was one final terrible twist to come.
In 1962, an exhibition of Gorky’s work was to take place inn Los Angeles, however the plane carrying his work crashed shortly after take off, resulting in the deaths of all 87 passengers and eight crew members, as well as, obviously, the destruction of Gorky’s 15 paintings.
With a life marred by such emotional tragedy, it’s no wonder Gorky’s surviving painting are said to carry a heavy aura of their own. Reportedly, the pieces are said to fall from walls and even catch one fire. In addition, the apparition of a dark haired man in a blue overcoat is said to have been seen around different pieces.
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