Monthly Archives: May 2011

Vincent van Gogh – one of the foremost representative of Post-impressionist art

24 May 2011

vivcent van goghVincent Willem van Gogh was born on 30 March 1853 in Groot-Zundert, a village in the southern Netherlands. He was the son of Anna Cornelia Carbentus and Theodorus van Gogh, a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church. As a child, Vincent was serious, silent and thoughtful. He spent a major portion of his adult life working for a firm of art dealers. At the age of 16, Vincent’s uncle secured him a job with the Hague office. He worked here for four years and after his transfer to London, he fell in love with his landlady’s daughter. But when he finally confessed his feeling to her, she rejected him, saying that she was already secretly engaged to a former lodger. Then, Vincent van Gogh meets Sein, a prostitute, and is soon rejected by her and he falls into deep depression. Another unhappy Vincent Van Gogh’s love was his neighbors’ daughter. But her parents were against their relationships and she soon poisoned herself. Van Gogh thought it was his fault and then again falls into depression.

His life wasn’t an easy one. He had to face extreme poverty, hunger and insanity. He suffered from anxiety and increasingly frequent bouts of mental illness throughout his life and died, largely unknown, at the age of 37 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The extent to which his mental illness affected his painting has been a subject of speculation since his death. Vincent van Gogh was seen as a failure in his lifetime which lead to various mental disorders and ultimately suicide, but today is viewed as the foremost representative of post-impressionist art.

Van Gogh did not begin painting until his late twenties, and most of his best-known works were produced during his final two years. He produced more than 2,000 artworks, consisting of around 900 paintings and 1,100 drawings and sketches. Vincent’s works are beautiful beyond words. Most of his masterpieces are priceless. We can see a part of him in all his paintings. From his gentleness and compassion in his works, his profound love of nature in any of his sunflower series, to his devastating depression and despair, there’s some part of the real Van Gogh in each and every one of his works. As an artist, he always demanded to be supplied with the color yellow. This is particularly witnessed in the very famous painting, ‘Sunflowers’, which had a prominent use of this shade. His Impressionist technique was evident in the way he applied colors where he applied paint in terms of dashes. Later on, he also applied paint very thickly in swirls that caused the layers to stand from above the canvas. An example of this would be another of his famous painting, ‘Café Terrace at Night’ where he applied colors in terms of dashes. In 1889, Van Gogh had to admit himself to a mental hospital. His brother Theo, who supported Vincent throughout his life, helped to arrange two small rooms for him so that one could be used as a studio. This was the time when he painted his famous ‘Starry Night’.

sunflowersIt is a known fact that some of Vincent Van Gogh’s best works happened during his last two years  of his life. This was also the time when he cut of his left ear due to a breakdown with his friendship with artist, Paul Gauguin. “The artist’s task is to think, not to dream.” With these words, in January 1889 Vincent Van Gogh broke off the friendship with Paul Gauguin. On December 23rd, the French painter had left him, after two months of humble and feverish working together, in Arles. He had cast him off at the height of an argument, which even ended up in the local newspaper: “Dutch painter cuts off an ear and gives it to a prostitute.” But why did Vincent tear apart with his own hands this relationship in which he had invested so much? The real conflict between Van Gogh and his friend arose around their conception of painting. Gauguin would like also to follow his imagination. But Van Gogh was unmovable: without a subject in front of him, without reality before his eyes, he could not paint. Once Paul portrayed Vincent while he was painting a picture of sunflowers, with a somewhat visionary air. Gauguin had given free rein to his imagination–it was impossible for Van Gogh to be painting sunflowers in December. When Van Gogh saw the picture, he made a remark that has become historic: “It looks like a me gone mad.” Gauguin had irreparably dug up Vincent’s desperation and fragility. Four days later Van Gogh was in a bed in the Arles hospital, curled up and mute.

Little appreciated during his lifetime, his fame grew in the years after his death. Today, he is widely regarded as one of history’s greatest painters and an important contributor to the foundations of modern art. He was producing something extraordinary. Yet he only sold one painting in his lifetime. It wasn’t until thirty years after his death that people really finally began to understand just how incredibly amazing Van Gogh’s works really were. He was so gifted but unfortunately never recognized in his time. Nowadays Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings provide inspirations to millions of artists around the world. Many of his masterpieces are among the world’s most recognizable and expensive works of art.