Degas painted a portrait of Manet’s wife—Manet slashed it with a razor. Rauschenberg erased a de Kooning. Ruskin burned Goya’s engravings. “He smells of brimstone,” Ingres said of Delacroix. “He looks like a guy who works at a service station pumping gas,” de Kooning said of Pollock. “A hoax,” Matisse called Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Dali was expelled from the Surrealist movement. De Chirico was expelled from the Surrealist movement. “A pretentious ass,” Dali called Breton. “Eager for dollars,” Breton called Dali.

“The artist must work like a laborer,” said Renoir, who did not find success until he was in his fifties. Raphael painted fifty Madonnas. Leonardo followed strangers on the street. Michelangelo walked alone in the woods. “Then I discovered the Brushes app,” said David Hockney. Cézanne caught pneumonia while painting in the rain. Egon Schiele died of the flu. Manet’s leg was amputated. “I am cursed with a preposterous discontent,” said Van Gogh, who completed nine hundred paintings and then shot himself in the chest. “There are no rules,” said Goya.

Toulouse-Lautrec died at thirty-seven. Van Gogh died at thirty-seven. Goya did not become famous until he was in his forties, at which time he also went deaf. Beyond the evidence of his paintings, little is known of the peasant Bruegel’s life. Duchamp gave up art for chess. In Tangier, Matisse contemplated suicide. Gauguin attempted suicide. Caravaggio threw stones at police officers. Derain was killed by a car. “There is something shameful,” said Degas, “about being known.”

“Impossible to get rid of him,” Picasso said of Degas. Giorgione died in his thirties. El Greco died broke. Vermeer died in debt to the baker. De Kooning ate a cigarette. “Everything he knew about art he got from me,” Michelangelo said of Raphael. “Ignorant,” he called Leonardo. “The only person who has the right to criticize me,” Matisse said of Picasso. “I have reached the happy age of impotence,” said Delacroix.

“I am going to try to get out of it as soon as possible,” Matisse said of painting. Caravaggio signed only one painting in his entire life. Seurat sold two. De Chirico painted forgeries of his own work. Ingres spent fifteen years sketching tourists. Jackson Pollock baked pies.