What makes an artist, an artist? A successful artist must possess natural talent, education and experience, sufficient discipline to work at their craft, and the drive to succeed. In many cases, when looking at artists, there also seems to be an iconoclastic streak, the need to burst through the boundaries of tradition and make a mark on the world.
This article will examine some astrological factors that appear significantly more often in artists than they do in the general population or control group. I will explain my methodology at the end of the article.
What does one look for in a chart to show artistic success? Many astrologers might look first to Venus and, perhaps, Neptune’s prominence when looking at the charts of artists. But are Venus and Neptune the correct places to look? If so, what sort of Venus and Neptune factors should astrologers look for?
What astrological attributes actually denote a successful artist? The research shows some interesting results. The following table compares percentages of factors that appear in a group of 280 artists against a control group:
Please note that it is impossible for all factors to be present in every artist. In fact, the highest count of any artist in the experimental group was 9 factors out of 26. The experimental group is made up of artists who make their living through art.
Moon in Aries Artists are statistically more likely to have Moon in Aries. Why? It might be a quest for emotional independence; marching to the beat of a different drummer when it comes to expressing oneself emotionally. The abundant emotional energy apparent with this placement also helps the artist’s creativity. The Cardinality moves the artist forward and on to new things; always ready to take on a new project with a new point of view.
Moon in the 3rd House The Moon’s emotional nature exhibits itself through the 3rd House’s communications theme. The artist communicates on an emotional level. Paintings and sculpture require no words to display their meaning. An artist is able to transcend normal methods of communication to make an immediate emotional impact using the medium of art.
Moon in the 12th House The emotional life inhabits the artist’s dream world. Many artists live and work from a place of emotional seclusion. The studio can become the artist’s cell. The emotions are only allowed to take flight through translating the artist’s dreams onto canvas or other media.
Moon trine Jupiter The Moon and Jupiter seem to be extraordinarily prominent in artists’ charts and are in an easy relationship with each other. Emotional expansion would be the concept that comes to mind with this combination. The emotional and unconscious qualities that the Moon denotes is energized and enlarged by its easy relationship with Jupiter. This aspect could also show that the artist connects with the public easily.
Moon square Uranus Squares are exciting and activating. Moon square Uranus suggests the emotional iconoclast. Could this possibly be a contributing factor as to why so many great artists have tumultuous emotional lives? Since some artists have a fairly unconventional way of expressing themselves emotionally, this could cause stress when in relationships with those more conventional in their emotional expression.
Moon square Neptune Emotions and mysticism combine to produce great art that awakens to the subconscious? Perhaps. For some, Neptune is thought of as one of the main factors that would be prominent in an artists’ chart. This is a square, however, so there is tension here. We also see the repetition of the emotions/dream world theme as seen in the Moon in the 12th House section above.
Moon square Pluto The Moon’s square with Pluto suggests that the artist personally locks into the transformative process. The Moon so strikingly aspecting these slow-moving, generational planets brings the Zeitgeist through the artist to the world at large.
Sun in Pisces Along with the normal watery, emotional cast which Pisces calls to mind for modern astrologers, let’s not forget that, classically, Jupiter is the Domicile ruler of Pisces. As we have seen, Jupiter is one of the most frequent factors that appear in these combinations. Sun trine Jupiter This aspect can signify the ego expansion which the artist realizes when their work (and the artist) gains acclaim. Jupiter gives the opportunity to expand the self as expressed through art.
Sun trine Ascendant This aspect can be the artist leaving his or herself on the canvas (or in the marble). What you see is what you get. The inner self and the work are one. The Ascendant is also the first point of interaction with the outside world, the mask the artist wears.
Venus square Neptune Venus, the planet traditionally associated with art, squares Neptune, the planet of dreams. Squares show action, activity, and a driving force. Venus square Neptune shows the driving force to display, artistically, the dream world.
Venus square Ascendant In this aspect, the dynamic tension of the square, driving the most personal point in the chart, the Ascendant, is working with the artistry of Venus. The art becomes the person; the person becomes the art.
Mars in Taurus Mars (action, drive) is disposed by Venus, the Domicile ruler of Taurus, the planet most closely associated with artistry by astrologers. With placements such as this, it is almost as important to look to the placement of the dispositor, in this case Venus, to see where and how Mars will express its energy.
Mars in Leo This may denote the self-promotion which an artist must accomplish to succeed. Mars is Peregrine (without Essential Dignity) for the first 20 degrees of Leo, a “loose cannon” placement. As above, one should also look to the placement of the Sun as Mars’ dispositor to bring more depth.
Mars square Jupiter Mars activity meets Jupiter’s expansion. Often in the art world, nothing succeeds like excess. Temperamental and irascible are two other words one might use to define this aspect.
Mars semi-square Uranus Here we see active iconoclasm. This aspect shows the energy needed to shock and overturn the status quo. The unconventional is aggressively sought out and displayed.
Jupiter in the 9th House Jupiter is expansion, growing to fill the empty spaces. Jupiter and the 9th House are also concerned with learning and scholarship. Art in its execution requires knowledge, not only of the practicalities of painting and sculpture, but also of anatomy, the nature of light, geometry, etc. One of Jupiter’s main themes is inclusiveness and, as an artist, one needs to be inclusive. On a more practical note, it seems that many artists tend to not reside in their country of birth. Jupiter and the 9th House both denote travel and foreign lands.
Jupiter in the 11th House Networking, an expanded circle of acquaintances, is the lifeblood of an artist: gallery openings, shows, museum get-togethers, etc. William Lilly, in “Christian Astrology” also said, “Jupiter doth especially rejoice in this House” and that the 11th also denotes, “The Praise or Dispraise of anyone.” So acceptance or dismissal by art critics could also be tied to this placement.
Jupiter sextile Saturn Jupiter’s expansiveness meets Saturn’s discipline. Ideas are wonderful, but the work must be completed. There is an easy relationship between the somewhat opposite natures of Jupiter and Saturn; expansion versus contraction. Saturn lends the required discipline to see projects through to completion.
Saturn in the 11th A higher percentage of artists had Saturn in the 11th than did those with Jupiter in the 11th. This suggests that the artist needs to be serious and realistic with his friends, associates and critics.
Saturn quincunx Uranus This can show the uneasy relationship between satisfying the whims of the powers-that-be and the yearning for complete artistic freedom. Artists though the ages have often had to deal with patrons and those who commissioned artistic works while still following their artistic dreams. What the patron or commissioner wants can often be at odds with the artist’s vision.
Pluto in the 9th This position shows how art transforms scholarly, religious, and legal systems. Burn it down to build anew. Throughout the Centuries, artists also made their living in the employ of religious institutions.
Pluto trine the Ascendant With this placement, the transformative power of the Universe is expressed though the artist. The artist may be able to draw on the power of the collective unconsciousness and produce work that reflects society at large.
Ascendant in Cancer When Cancer is rising, the Moon is the chart ruler. This shows expression of emotion to the world at large, with the capacity to touch the public emotionally, depending, of course, on the position and condition of the Moon in the chart.
Midheaven in Aries This denotes the career drive, which would be essential to most working artists. The position and condition of Mars (Aries Domicile ruler) in the chart will be very important in delineating this factor.
Midheaven in Capricorn Capricorn provides the drive, discipline and determination that could be very important towards mounting a successful artistic career. The position of Capricorn’s Domicile ruler, Saturn, will need to be taken into account when evaluating this placement.
While many other chart factors have proven to be statistically more prevalent in artists than in the general population, these 26 were the strongest. The more factors one adds in, however, the law of diminishing returns comes into play.
How does the practicing astrologer use this information? Naturally, since none of these factors show up in more than 15 percent of the 280 charts we can’t say that any of them definitively give us an “artist signature.” What the astrologer needs to look at is the number of factors present in the chart and how well those factors tie into the chart as a whole.
Let’s briefly look at some famous artist’s charts and see how some of these factors may be working.
Venus, giving him a Moon/Venus/Neptune midpoint configuration. He was best known for his paintings portraying life in Polynesia, embracing the culture of those foreign lands (Pluto and Uranus in the 9th House).
Georges Seurat has Saturn in 11th House, Moon square Uranus, Venus square Neptune, Venus square Ascendant and Mars square Jupiter. In addition, he also has a mutual reception of the Moon and Jupiter, the two planets that show up most often in the list of significant factors. Seurat shook up the art world with his technique of Pointillism, where small dabs of pure color on the canvas make up the painting.
Salvador Dali has Moon in Aries, Mars in Taurus, Cancer Ascendant, Aries Midheaven, Moon square Jupiter, Moon square Neptune and Jupiter sextile Saturn. Four of the seven factors in his chart involve the Moon, the chart ruler. In addition, the Moon is on the Midheaven and sits on the Uranus/Neptune midpoint, as well as the Jupiter/Pluto midpoint. Dali was a highly eccentric figure, a painter who brought dreams to life and a consummate showman.
Paul Gauguin has five of the factors in his chart: Mars in Leo, Jupiter in the 11th House, Pluto in the 9th House, Venus square Neptune, and Pluto trine the Ascendant. While Gauguin does not have the Moon square Neptune, he does have Moon opposed Neptune, both square can be used when trying to find common ground within any profession.
What methodology was used? Using AstroDatabank, version 2, the birth data was filtered for a Rodden Rating of B or above (some sort of documented birth time) and the Vocational category of Art/Fine Arts. Those without artist, painter or sculptor listed first in their biography were eliminated. This removed people such as Winston Churchill, John Wayne Gacy, and others whose primary claim to fame was outside the fine arts. This provided a database of around 280 artists, which was then imported into Jigsaw version 2. Using Jigsaw, possible statistical anomalies were looked for using a graphic representation and a list of factors was developed. I then Rubens has Mars in Leo, Pluto in the 9th House, Midheaven in Aries, Moon trine Jupiter, and Moon square Pluto. Mars and Pluto are also trine. The Moon conjuncts Saturn and opposes Neptune. Rubens is sometimes called “The Prince of the Baroque” and is credited with uniting northern art with that of Italy. He was extraordinarily prolific and is considered to be one of the greatest European painters.
What does this research tell us? This small study shows us that the Moon and Jupiter are very prominent in different ways in the charts of successful artists. What these 26 factors give us are starting points for delving deeper into a chart. The same sort of analysis created AstroSignatures in AstroDatabank based on my Jigsaw findings. After running the artist Experimental group through the AstroSignatures, a control database was created using AstroDatabank. The separate dates, years, times and places of birth of the Experimental group were replicated and 2,800 randomized charts were created based on the Experimental data. This is so that demographic and historical variances would not affect the astronomical factors one has to consider when doing astrology research. After finding factors that had statistically significant differences between the experimental group and the control group, factors that showed a total variance of less than 2 percent were discarded. This left us with the 26 factors included in this article.
Frank Piechoski is a professional astrologer who first began doing charts in 1976. His lectures include presentations at UAC, AFA, SOTA, ATI, the Astrological Association of Great Britain and numerous local groups. He has also been an active member of AFAN, now serving his third term on its Steering Committee. Frank combines classical and modern astrology techniques, with William Lilly and Reinhold Ebertin principal amongst his influences. In addition to natal chart consultations, Frank specializes in electional, vocational, forecasting astrology, working closely with both private clients and businesses. Above all, Frank approaches astrology from a practical standpoint; how best to get the job done. He is working on a book on practical application of astrology and sometimes gets lost in various research projects.