Depression Art With Deep Meanings: What Depression Looks Like Through an Artist’s Eye

Last Update on June 24, 2024 : Published on August 11, 2023
Resolving Depression Through An Artist's Eye

Art has always been a powerful tool for expressing emotions too complicated to name or express through words or actions. One such emotion that found its expression in art is depression. Global artists have used art with deep meanings to channel their feelings and experiences through their work, creating art pieces that not only display their prowess but also offer insights into the internal struggles of the human mind.

We all have our unique definition of depression – for some, it’s a battle with oneself, and for others, it’s more like eternal exhaustion. I’ve always found solace and expression in writing, but I have friends who find creating music, painting, and playing sports as a method of expression.

Dealing with depression needs compassion, patience, and a positive mindset. But is it all? Of course not! As someone who has lived through depression (and still struggles with it) trust me when I say this; thinking positive thoughts when your mind screams the opposite is not easy. Not until we learn to clear our mind and express our thoughts and feelings as they are meant to.

It’s easy to say “Think Positive Thoughts” but it’s infinitely hard to do it. However, I have a trick for you! Have you heard of this little thing called perspective?

Well, in this article today, I’ll be helping you change your perspective on depression.

How? Easy! Seeing depression through an artist’s eye.

Shall we begin?

The Link Between Depression And Art Expression

The link between depression and art expression is a complex one. It’s rooted in the connection between your emotions, creativity, and experience. Art has always been a means of communication for humans to convey their thoughts, ideas, experiences, and even feelings that are hard to express through other mediums such as words or actions.

Now, when we talk about the link between art and depression, let’s understand one thing; art is an outlet for emotions. Depression is a serious mental health disorder that can bring a range of emotions to the forefront, overwhelming you until you feel sadness, despair, and anger. Art offers a non-verbal platform that you can use to channel these emotions and externalize them to make sense of them.

Creating art can also be a cathartic experience. Engaging in creative arts such as painting and drawing can offer a safe space where you can process your feelings, get some relief, and feel empowered.

It’s a channel of communication that can be used to express those emotions and feelings which are hard to articulate through your words. Visual elements used in art – such as colors, symbols, and textures – can convey a lot more than you can imagine.

Depression often causes us to feel helpless and a loss of control. Art here can allow you to take charge of your creative process, providing a sense of agency over something amid all the chaos in your mind.

When I talk about artists who share their work with the masses, the link extends to empathy. When an artist shares their work that reflects their inner turmoil, it creates a sense of connection with the one viewing the art. They may find solace in realizing that they are not alone in their experiences and there is someone out there who understands them.

Depression Expressed Through Art!

When I think about depression, a sense of emptiness and isolation comes to mind. Artists around the globe have captured these feelings in their work using various elements of art. Dark and muted colors usually dominate the palette, symbolizing the emptiness and helplessness that overpowers a person’s mind when they are depressed.

1. Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks

One of the most iconic examples of depressing art is Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks”. The painting shows three people sitting at a diner at night, lost in their thoughts. The lighting and the scene of disconnect in the painting bring forth feelings of isolation, mirroring the experience of many who struggle with depression.

examples of depressing art
(Source: Artsper Magazine)

Depression is not always visible and artists have found ways to express this through metaphors. Metaphors allow people to get a glimpse of the internal turmoil that depression brings. In various artworks, distorted images are used to represent the fractured thoughts and emotions that often occur during depression.

2. Frida Kahlo’s “The Two Fridas

Another renowned artist who is known for her raw self-portraits often used elements of pain and suffering in her work. Yes, I’m talking about Frida Kahlo. Frida Kahlo’s “The Two Fridas shows two versions of herself connected by a blood vessel. This art offers a perspective of her inner struggles and the duality she felt within.

chaotic inner battle depression art
(Source: Frida Kahlo)

The expression of depression is never complete if there is no symbolism of a chaotic inner battle – a battle where emotions and thoughts are against each other. This turmoil is often expressed through art using juxtapositions of chaos and order. When I talk about depressing art with deep meanings, I can’t ignore Yayoi Kusama, a contemporary artist known for her sculpture and installation art.

3. Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirror Room

Another example of depression shown through art is Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirror Room. Stepping into this installation, you feel surrounded by an endless (well, seemingly endless) expanse of reflections and lights. This immersive experience can also be perceived as a metaphor for overwhelming depressive thoughts. The interaction between chaos and order in this installation often resonates with the internal disorder that we experience when depressed.

moments of hope and resilience
(Source: CBC)

Despite the darkness that often overshadows depression, artists strive to convey emotions and moments of hope and resilience. Such artwork acknowledges that while depression is challenging to overcome, it’s always possible to find light and brightness at the end of the tunnel. Colors are more vibrant, symbols represent growth, and healing is often portrayed.

4. Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night

This comes true with another art about depression. Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night – is a prime example of how darkness and light exist in the same space. In the painting, you can see the swirling night sky which represents the inner struggles yet the stars and the moon you see offer a sense of fragility. This infamous painting captures the hope that you can find within the chaos.

light exist in the same space deep depression art
(Source: Owlcation)

More Depression Art With Deep Meanings…

Other works where depression is shown through art can include the paintings and drawings by Edvard Munch, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Salvador Dalí, and more. Let’s take a look at some of the other famous depression art with deep meanings.

5. Edvard Munch: The Scream

Edvard Munch The Scream art with deep meaning
Source: Owlcation

6. Georgia O’Keeffe: Blossoms

Georgia O'Keeffe Blossoms famous art about depression
Source: Winsor & Newton

7. Mark Rothko: No. 61 (Rust and Blue)

Mark Rothko No. 61 (Rust and Blue)
Source: Mark Rothko

8. Jackson Pollock: Drip Paintings

Jackson Pollock Drip Paintings depression art ideas
Source: MoMA

9. Salvador Dalí: The Persistence of Memory

Salvador Dalí The Persistence of Memory
Source: Wikiart

10. Salvador Dalí: The Elephants

Salvador Dalí The Elephants
Source: Salvador Dalí

11. Vincent van Gogh: The Bedroom

Vincent van Gogh The Bedroom
Source: Van Gogh Museum

12. Falling into Depression

depression art

13. Dark Depression Arts

depression art with deep meaning

Artists That Went Through Depression…

Throughout history, there are mentions of great artists who have struggled with the depths of depression and turned their inner turmoil into works of art that are talked about and appreciated even today. These artists have not only used their artistic talents as a coping mechanism but also left behind a legacy that no one can top.

The famous artists that went through depression can include;

  • Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890)
  • Frida Kahlo (1907–1954)
  • Edvard Munch (1863–1944)
  • Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986)
  • Mark Rothko (1903–1970)
  • Jackson Pollock (1912–1956)
  • Willem de Kooning (1904–1997)
  • Francisco Goya (1746–1828)
  • Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960–1988)

It’s All About Expression…

Depression art with deep meanings offers a powerful window into the complexities of the human mind. Artists have woven their internal struggles and chaos, emotions, and hope into their artworks, creating a tapestry of visual elements that resonate with people going through similar struggles.

These artworks not only show the many ways in which depression can be expressed but they also remind us that this emotion is universal and so is the healing power of creative art expression.

As someone from the opposite side of the canvas, we can witness these intricate depictions and connect with these artists with a greater understanding, empathy, and compassion for all who struggle with depression and anxiety.

Did you resonate with these paintings? Let me know which painting captured your emotions, thoughts, or feelings the best in the comments below.

Also, know that you’re not alone in your struggles with depression. If you’re feeling depressed, then know that you can reach out to us or connect with a professional.

Take Care and Be Well!

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.


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