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Does booze affect artistic endeavor? Reason to drink…a lot?

on 23/08/13 at 9:52 am

Booze News

indexWere many of history’s great artists also great boozers?

Yes and no. I’ve found that while many artists did drink a great deal, very few mixed alcohol with their working hours. Even the alcoholics recognised that drinking made their creative output a little too effortless and their appraisal of the results a little too charitable. Sobriety is a requirement of most artistic work.

As George Sand wrote in her autobiography: “Honestly, I do not believe in a drunk Byron writing beautiful verses. Inspiration can pass through the soul just as easily in the midst of an orgy as in the silence of the woods, but when it is a question of giving form to your thoughts, whether you are secluded in your study or performing on the planks of a stage, you must be in total possession of yourself.”

Of course, plenty of artists figured out ways to be in total possession of their faculties for a few hours a day and be wasted for much of the remainder.

The painter Francis Bacon is a good example. He drank tremendous quantities of alcohol during his long nights out on the town, but he always woke at first light and painted for several hours, usually finishing around noon. Even the occasional hangover was a boon. “I often like working with a hangover,” he said, “because my mind is crackling with energy and I can think very clearly.”