Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

Macular Degeneration, Vision Loss, and Art

When artists experience vision loss, “Often, an entirely new body of work emerges.” The Vision and Art Project, a program of The American Macular Degeneration Foundation (AMDF), examines the influence macular degeneration and vision loss have had on art and artists currently active as well as in the past. They report that approximately 30 percent of artists experience a significant loss of vision by age 75. The works of past notables with macular degeneration, Georgia O’Keefe and Edgar Degas, reflect adaptations they made as they continued to create art, for example. O’Keefe, recognized as “America’s foremost woman painter,” continued to paint following her vision loss, as explained in an article reporting on a recent retrospective of her work shown first in Paris (and currently at the Fondation Beyeler in Basel, Switzerland): Georgia O’Keefe in Paris. In describing her own later work, O’Keefe noted: “’These paintings are from my seeing differently than I saw before…You may not see what you might have seen two years ago – but memory is good, so with what you see and what you remember – a piece of charcoal and some paper, you find yourself drawing…’” Sotheby’s website includes the full text of GEORGIA O’KEEFE: AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT, TITLED IN O’KEEFE’S HAND: “MY EYES AND PAINTING”. Another artist, Thomas Sgouros, painted “’landscapes from memory’” when he was no longer able to paint still lives. Still more, like William Thon, gained new insights that revitalize subjects they covered previously utilizing new techniques. Thon began to paint using his sense of touch, relying on his fingers to “draw by feel.”  Read about these and other artists as well as support available to those with macular degeneration from the Vision and Art Project.