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A Short History of Rabble-Rousing Creative Folks

Myths about artists, writers, dancers, and musicians abound. There’s a tendency to label them all as rabble-rousing creative folks.

That’s just not true though. Just as with any group of people, there will always be some among the collective who are more adventurous than others.

But just out of curiosity, we’ll take a look at some of the more extreme examples of rapscallion skullduggery behaviors here.

Just a Handful of Rabble-Rousing Creative Folks

Whether you’re a quirky creative type or you know someone who is, you may relate to some of the outright outrageous behaviors we’ll explore in the following ‘characters’. (Though in many cases, we hope not!)

1. Landscape Artist, Thomas Moran

Back in 1971, the Wild West was TRULY wild. And dangerous. Like The Wizard of Oz “lions, tigers, and bears” dangerous. Okay, so maybe just the bears.

Even so, these vast regions that were largely unexplored and completely unknown to the cities in the east were irresistible to the adventurous sort. So when Washington put out the call for teams of men to get out there and see what was happening, English landscape painter Thomas Moran was all for it.

Given that England’s farthest outposts had been widely explored already, Moran found the idea irresistible. He was thrilled to explore the mysterious land of craters and strange jets of steam now known as Yellowstone Park.

This wasn’t glamping. Moran would spend 40 days painting this vast wilderness with just the barest minimum in supplies. He wandered the unexplored region with the pure intention of making art. His paintings became so well-known that after the adventure, he branded himself Thomas Yellowstone Moran.

2. Poet, Arthur Rimbaud

If Moran’s adventure doesn’t earn him the label of rabble-rouser, then Arthur Rimbaud’s should. Rimbaud was a poet who, at the age of 17, lived on the streets of Paris as a homeless beggar. He started a torrid love affair with the older and eminent poet Paul Verlaine so he could rob the poet of his work and use some of it as toilet paper.

By the time he was 25, he abandoned poetry altogether and went to East Africa where he would make a living as a gunrunner. He purchased thousands of rifles in Europe and then journeyed for four months on camel through punishing desert landscapes to sell them in what was then Abyssinia.

While this trek would have made great fodder for poetry, he never put pen to paper again. He remained in Africa and tried to right is his ways by becoming a mercenary. Unfortunately, he would eventually give that up to become a slave trader instead.

3. Painter, Caravaggio

Perhaps Rimbaud was a bit too corrupt to be considered a mere rabble-rouser. The same could be said for Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. Given the dramatic quality of his paintings, you might guess him to be a passionate sort. But you’d likely never guess he was known for getting into duels, attacking a prostitute with a knife, and even killing a guy. He had no qualms about attacking one of his artistic rivals with a sword and may have even worked part-time as a pimp.

If that weren’t enough, he was also part of a roving gang of painters and architects who lived by the motto “without hope, without fear.” This group would dress up at night like old-fashioned knights and patrol the streets. But they definition of patrol was ‘get in fights, pick up prostitutes, and attempt to murder our rivals.’ So the streets weren’t exactly safe.

Sadly for Caravaggio, violence begets violence. After an unfortunate night at a Neapolitan tavern when he was jumped by a man with whom he had a serious beef, he sustained severe injuries from which he never truly recovered.

4. Ballet Fans

Okay. This last one isn’t quite so vile. And it involves a group of people rather than an individual.

The story of composer Igor Stravinsky’s 1913 premiere of The Rite of Spring in Paris is among the better-known tales in the annals of art history. And there are different accounts of what, exactly, took place.

Sure. Stravinsky was known, at the time, for dabbling with the daringly experimental. So the work itself was not what French audiences were anticipating. Add to that the fact that the political climate was rife with violence and people were protesting on the streets and the whole event was already under fire.

Before the curtain rose, the audience was already booing and shouting. By the time the dancers came to the stage, there was a full-blown riot in the making with two rival factions in the audience attaching one another.

Among the creative folks who were there were Marcel Proust, Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Maurice Ravel, and Claude Debussy. They reported that members of the audience tried to stop the performance by throwing vegetables onto the stage. When all was said and done, 40 people had to be forcibly ejected.

Not the greatest moment for art.

Is Your Child Part of the Creative Tribe?

Despite the shortcomings of the above people, many artistic types are not rabble-rousing creative folks. While they do tend to push the envelope, that’s a necessary part of their artistic exploration. But artists, and especially artistic teens and young adults, are often ostracized for being different.

So if your child is struggling with conventional schooling and maybe even acting out, consider the benefits of an arts-integrated education. Contact us today to request a tour of our arts-academy middle school and high school.

Let their creativity – and them – shine.


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