Vincent Willem van Gogh was a painter whose work,notable for its rough beauty, emotional honesty and boldcolour, had a far-reaching influence on 20th-century art.He had one of the briefest careers, it spanned only 10years but the volume of his output is astonishing. Almost1700 of his work survived about 900 drawing and 800paintings.His work was then known to only a handful of people andappreciated by fewer still. During his lifetime he sold onlyone painting for the equivalent of 5000 rupees.
Today his works are owned by the finest museums and richest art collectors around the world and cost millions of dollars.While he was alive Van Gogh was regarded as an exceedingly difficult, obstinate and even frightening man. Now that he lies safely in his grave for 120 years he is widely considered a hero.Van Gogh is now ranked as one of the founding fathers of modern art.
His father His mother Vincent Anna Cornelia Theodorus van Born : March 30 1853 van Gogh Gogh HollandVincent’s father was a pastor of a small church and his mother ahomemaker was a mild soul. They had a narrow minded out lookwith an emphasis on proprieties and out ward appearances whichwas the opposite of his own.
Vincent was brought in a religious and culturedatmosphere but was highly emotional and lacked self- confidence. He tried various careers as a clerk in a bookstore, an art salesman, and a preacher but was unsuccessful. Finally at the age of twenty-seven he decided to become an artist. Having decided at long last that his mission in life was to be an artist, Van Gogh established his first “studio” the cottage of a Borinage coal miner, in Belgium, where he was earlier working as a preacher. From Paris, his brother Theo who was to support him all his life, sent him material to study and copy.
From childhood he had made little sketches of things around him but he now realised that he was badly in need of formal instruction. He thought of asking Jules Breton, a French painter he met while working as an art salesman. He walked many miles for days, sleeping in the open air, in an abandoned wagon and once in a haystack with very little money in his pocket to reach his studio.Upon reaching Breton’s studio, he was too intimidated toknock on the door, so he turned back and walked all theway back to Borinage
Once home, he was overcome with fatigue and quite melancholy but he decided that inspite of everything he would rise again, take up his pencil and go on with his drawing.After this, Van Gogh pursued artsingle-mindedly. Basically self taught,he worked hard to perfect histechnique and style. He drewhundreds of studies, still life drawingsand painting until he could producestunningly realistically work.
It was after five years of such work that VanGogh created the masterpiece of his early period,“The Potato Eaters.” In dark earthen colours hedepicts the grim life of peasants to whom dinnerconsists of stabbing at boiled potatoes in a roomas grim as a stable. In the details, like the workworn hands and coarse features, he attests totheir harsh but all too human reality.
The next big influence on Van Gogh was Paris. He arrived there in early 1886 on a brisk February morning , to join his brother Théo ,eager to learn and be stimulated by new experiences. Paris in that year was the place to be, the city was bubbling with innovations in science, literature and art. Theo worked there as a manager of an art gallery. He introduced him to a world of different art forms- Impressionism, Pointillism and Japanese Art Vincent , still shy and reserved , became friendly with other painters like Toulouse –Lautrec, Pisarro and Gaugin
In Paris, Van Goghs art changed dramaticallyunder the influence of impressionism andpostimpressionism.Brightness and lightness flooded his work and hepainted serene café interiors and breezylandscapes.The dark palette of his Holland period gave way to bright colors, and he began experimenting with divided,flickering brushstrokes that make the surface of thecanvas vibrate. More attracted to rural subjectsthan to cityscapes and he often painted thesuburbs of Paris.Van Goghs use of this new style altered not onlyhis work, but also all of art history
ImpressionismThe impressionist style of painting concentrates on the general impressionproduced by a scene or object rather than its actual fine details. Unmixedprimary colors and small strokes are used to emphasise actual reflectedlight and paintings are usually of landscapes and daily aspects of life
Pointillism is an original form of art created by GeorgeSeurat. Pointillism is a bunch of tiny dots formed together tomake a picture which is brighter than the other kinds ofpaintings. Pointillism takes a long time. For example, Seurat’s“A Sunday in the Park” took him two years to complete.
As his art changed, so did Vincent’s relations with thosearound him. Nervous and exhausted, he had begun todrink heavily and quarrel with Theo who however didnot give up on him.His nervous temperament made him a difficultcompanion and night-long discussions combined withpainting all day undermined his healthVincent realised he was on the verge of a completebreakdown and decided to leave Paris. In Feb 1888, heleft for Arles in the South of France, he had heard muchabout it and was attracted by the idea of a warmer sunand brighter sky.
The year he spent in Arles was Van Goghs most productive period.Among his favorite subjects were blossoming trees and wheatfields,appropriate symbols of renewal and fertility. The Harvest, June 1888
Fishing Boats on the Beach at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, June 1888
The Yellow HouseIn September 1888 Van Goghmoved to the so-called YellowHouse in Arles -- the cornerhouse with the green shutters-- which he had rented as astudio for several months.Hoping to establish a colonyof artists, he invited hisfriends from Paris to join himin the house, for which heconceived a complexprogram. However onlyGauguin in October 1888 butwith disastrous results
The Yellow House
During this time, the first signs of Van Goghs mental illness began to take hold. He suffered from various types of epilepsy, psychotic attacks, and delusions.One such episode entailed Vincentpursuing Gauguin with a knife andthreatening him intensely. Later that day, Vincent returned to their house and mutilated hisear, then offered it to a prostitute as agift.When Vincent came back , he found Gauguin swiftly leaving Arles and his dream of an artisticcommunity shattered.
Saint-Remy Van Gogh then began to Here his paintings alternate between fits of became a torrent of madness and lucidity and activity. Although he admitted himself to the could not draw and paint asylum in Saint-Remy for for long periods of time treatment As the year of without suffering , 1888 came to an end, between attacks he Vincent travelled to painted with great Saint-Rémy-de-Provence lucidity and a renewed where he committed lyricism the landscapes himself to an asylum. He seen from his bedroom was treated by Dr. Paul window and in the Gachet who supported garden of the asylum his paintings and became a friend.
Van Gogh painted this blossom, symbol of new life, to celebrate the birth of his nephew, Theos son. It wasprobably painted out-of-doors, looking up into the branches of a tree. Unpainted areas around the branchesindicate that the tree was painted before the sky
The Starry Night Athough he could not draw and paint for long periods of time without suffering from an attack, he managed to create The Starry Night which resides as his most popular work and one of the most influence pieces in history. The swirling lines of the sky are a possible representation of his mental state. This same shaken style is visible in all of his work during his time in the asylum
In May of 1890, he seemed much better and went to live in Auvers-sur-Oise under the watchful eye of Dr. Gachet. Here he spent his time, painting the hilly countryside and wheat fields around the village, and the rustic cottages characteristic of Auvers
Van Gogh continued working and createda number of pieces; nearly one paintingday even though his mental conditionoften made it very difficult for him topaint.This took a heavy toll on him and he wasincreasingly depressed by his condition.Vincent began to view his life as horriblywasted and impossible. On July 27, 1890Van Gogh attempted suicide by shootinghimself in the chest. He survived, butdied two days later from the wound.
Theo, who had collected the majority of Vincents workfrom Paris, died only six months later. His widow took thecollection to Holland and dedicated herself to getting thenow deceased Vincent the recognition he deserved. Shepublished his work and Vincent became famous nearlyinstantly. His reputation has been growing since.Tragically, Van Gogh died not knowing the acclaim his artwould receive. Vincent van Gogh lived more than 120years ago , and yet his artwork is still altering the waymankind views beauty, persona, individuality, and style inart. Van Goghs unique life has inspired millions to becomeactive in art.Vincent van Gogh has altered mankind forever... and hebelieved his life was a terrible failure! Today his legacy isimmortal and he will be forever known as one of thegreatest artists of the modern era
•The World of Van Gogh – Time Life Books•Wikipedia•www. Wikipaintings.org•The Metropolitan Museum of Art – Vincent VanGogh•www.vangogh gallery.com•National Gallery of Art – Van Gogh Virtual Tour•Library.thinkquest.org