The artists non-retirement model

Why artists never retire = "drink to my health," Picasso is said to have said on his deathbed. He was in his nineties and had been making artwork just about up to the end of his long life. Somehow, the concept of estate planning is not the subject of much conversation between artists. There have been artists that were self-employed their entire lives and came to the realization at age sixty-five that they had never contributed to social security and were therefore not eligible for payments. Clearly, the thought of ever not continuing to make art -- to "work"-- is not operative exactly to the average artist. Most artists would like to continue leading creative and productive lives through ripe old age. But with advancing years come a litany of changes --both physical and mental-- that may introduce certain difficulties to the artist. Not to mention hurdles along the way, such as those that cut short the lives of a number of gifted artists = Felix Gonzales-Torres died of AIDS in his thirties; Sylvia Plath of suicide at 31; Egon Schiele of the 1918 flu at age 29; Dylan Thomas of alcoholism at a youthful 39; and, the composer Lily Boulanger of illness at 24. Still, there are remarkable examples of artists that lived extraordinarily productive lives way into maturity, artists the likes of William S, Burroughs who passed away at 84; Beatrice Wood who held forth in studio until she died 105; and, Willem de Kooning the action painter whose late paintings were created during the onset and advancement of end-phase alzheimer's disease (he died of this at age 93.) Staying busy, at work and in studio, is the fate of the true artist. A parting quote from Ms. Wood: "Only in action do we discover what is wrong or right . . . In the end, it is only hard work that counts."

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