From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
A starving artist is an artist who sacrifices material well-being in order to focus on their artwork. They typically live on minimum expenses, either for a lack of business or because all their disposable income goes towards art projects. Some starving artists desire mainstream success but have difficulty due to the high barriers in art such as visual arts, the film industry, and theatre. These artists frequently take temporary positions (such as waitering or other service industry jobs) while they focus their attention on breaking through in their preferred field.
The "starving artist" is a typical figure of Romanticism in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and is seen in many paintings and works of literature. Henri Murger wrote about four starving artists in Scènes de la Vie de Bohème, the basis for the operas La Bohème (Puccini) and La Bohème (Leoncavallo). Franz Kafka wrote a short story called A Hunger Artist in 1924 about a man who is world-famous for his public performances of fasting.
Examples in film
- Nicolas Cage as Charlie Kaufman in 2002 movie Adaptation.
- Emma Thompson as Kay Eiffel in 2006 movie Stranger Than Fiction
- Mickey Rourke as Henry Chinaski in 1987 movie Barfly
- Artworld economics
- Tortured artist
- Byronic hero
- Posthumous recognition