I’m a bit of a superstitious person. Not nearly as bad as I was as a kid. I had terrible OCD and did things in repititions of 8. Getting out of a pool? Dunk your head 8 times. Step on a crack? Step on it 7 more times to cancel out to juju.
So I was really into a piece by Ellen Weinstein, Via the amazing Artsy, where she broke down some of the greatest artist and the little (or big) ways they center their mojo or ward off evil.
Btw, Ellen did all the illustrations for the piece. Which as far as I’m concerned are better than the facts!
Lucky Number 5
French clothing designer Coco Chanel (1883–1971) was deeply superstitious. It’s been said that she was informed by a fortune-teller that 5 was her lucky number, and she named her famed fragrance accordingly. Her apartment also contained a crystal chandelier created with shapes twisted into the number 5, and she liked to present her collections on the fifth day of May (the fifth month of the year) for good luck.
Held onto His “Essence”
Spanish artist Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) would not throw away his old clothes, hair trimmings, or fingernail clippings for fear it would mean losing part of his “essence.” Picasso collected Picasso, and at the time of his death, he owned around fifty thousand works of his own, which ranged from prints and drawings to ceramics and theater sets. He is hailed as one of the last century’s most prolific and influential artists.
Slept Facing North
Charles Dickens (1812–1870) carried a navigational compass with him at all times and always faced north while he slept—a practice he believed improved his creativity and writing. The author of such classic novels as A Christmas Carol and Great Expectations, Dickens was also a social critic guided by a strong moral compass, which he made evident through his incisive depictions of socioeconomic conditions.
Lighting a Match
Renowned multimedia artist and peace activist Yoko Ono was very sensitive to sound and light when she was young. Ono discovered that lighting a match and watching the flame extinguish in a dark room gave her a sense of relief. She said she would repeat this ritual, sometimes in front of her sister, continuously until she calmed down. Later this private ritual became a performance piece, called Lighting Piece, which was recorded with the collective Fluxus.
Diane von Fürstenberg
Lucky Gold Coin
Fashion designer and icon Diane von Fürstenberg has a gold twenty-franc piece her father hid in his shoe during World War II that he gave to her when she was a girl. She tapes the coin in her shoe for good luck before every fashion show. Best known for her iconic wrap dress, von Fürstenberg’s influential designs are available in more than fifty-five countries worldwide.
Mexican painter and icon Frida Kahlo (1907–1954) created with plants as well as paint as her routine practice. Frida Kahlo’s paintings, often autobiographical, are filled with plants and flowers she grew herself in the garden of the home she shared with artist Diego Rivera, known as Casa Azul. Kahlo’s well-tended garden was a place of comfort and inspiration for Kahlo and one where she would spend hours tending plants, fruit, and flowers, many of which were of Mexican origin. Kahlo’s painting desk looked out at the garden from her window, and her last request when she returned home from the hospital before she died was for her bed to be moved to face her garden.
Wore a Hat When Blocked
Author and illustrator Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904–1991), better known as Dr. Seuss, kept an immense collection of nearly 300 hats. When facing writer’s block, the place Dr. Seuss would go was his secret closet, where he would choose a hat to wear until he felt inspired. His whimsical habits helped him create some of our most popular children’s books—including the classic The Cat in the Hat.
Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dalí (1904–1989) considered himself to be very superstitious and carried around a little piece of Spanish driftwood to help him to ward off evil spirits. Dalí was a prominent and influential painter whose life and work embraced surrealism. Known for his idiosyncrasies, he nearly suffocated once while giving a lecture in a diving bell helmet and suit.