Vincent Van Gogh
“It is good to love many things, for therein
lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done”
Vincent Willem Van Gogh who highly influenced 20th century art throughout his life remained poor and unknown. A post impressionist painter Vincent is considered one of the greatest painters’ whose work is notable for its color, emotion and beauty.
Vincent Van Gogh completed more than 2,100 works in the period of around 10 years. But during his lifetime he just sold one painting while as several of his paintings now rank among the most expensive paintings in the world. Vincent is also one of the most famous artists among the students of art field whose life and work continue to inspire many young artists of this generation.
Van Gogh was born on 30th March 1853 in Groot-Zundert, Netherlands. At age 15, van Gogh’s family was struggling financially, and he was forced to leave school and go to work. He got a job at his Uncle Cornelis’ art dealership, Goupil & Cie., a firm of art dealers in The Hague. By this time, van Gogh was fluent in French, German and English, as well as his native Dutch.
In June of 1873, van Gogh was transferred to the Groupil Gallery in London. He visited art galleries in his spare time, and also became a fan of the writings of Charles Dickens and George Eliot. He fell in love with his landlady’s daughter, Eugenie Loyer, but she rejected his proposal and Vincent was broke. He was fired from the Gallery for his anger and affecting their by telling customers not to by worthless art.
Van Gogh then taught in a Methodist boys’ school, and also preached to the congregation. Although raised in a religious family, it wasn’t until this time that he seriously began to consider devoting his life to the church. Hoping to become a minister, he prepared to take the entrance exam to the School of Theology in Amsterdam. But he was denied to appear in entrance exams because of his strange behavior.
Vincent was emotionally imbalanced, a wanderer unable to coup up with the outside world. Because of his strange attitude even the church would not consider him to preach. In the winter of 1878, van Gogh volunteered to move to an impoverished coal mine in the south of Belgium, a place where preachers were usually sent as punishment. He preached and ministered to the sick, and also drew pictures of the miners and their families, who called him “Christ of the Coal Mines. Because of his unusual life style and his method of preaching the evangelical committees refused to renew his contract. Vincent was one again left to find another means of livelihood.
In the fall of 1880, van Gogh finally decided to move to Brussels and become an artist. Though he had no formal art training he began taking lessons on his own, studying books on art. His younger brother Theo who would be his only friend offered to support van Gogh financially.
Van Gogh’s art helped him stay emotionally balanced. In 1885, he painted his first master piece “The Potato Eaters”. His brother Theo thought who worked in an art gallery thought the painting would not be well received as impressionism had became a trend.
“I dream my painting and
I paint my dream”
Van Gogh eventually visited his brother in Paris in 1886 and there he saw impressionist paintings and was inspired by the color and light. He began studying with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Camille Pissarro and others. To save money, he and his friends posed for each other instead of hiring models. Van Gogh was passionate, and he argued with other painters about their works, alienating those who became tired of his bickering.
Van Gogh became influenced by Japanese art and began studying eastern philosophy to enhance his art and life. He dreamed of traveling there, but was told by Toulouse-Lautrec that the light in the village of Arles was just like the light in Japan. He moved into the “yellow house” and spent his money on paint rather than food.
In February 1888, Van Gogh went to south of France where he painted “yellow house”. Van Gogh was living on coffee, bread and absinthe in Arles, France, and his mental and physical health was deteriorating. He found himself psychologically sick and physically weak. . Around this time, he is known to have sipped on turpentine and eaten paint.
“Normality is a paved road: it is
comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it”
His brother Theo who had an amazing love for his elder brother offered Paul Gauguin money to go watch over Vincent in Arles. Visit of Gauguin relieved Vincent of the fear of loneliness. . Gauguin was one of the few artists whom Van Gogh admired. Within a month, van Gogh and Gauguin were arguing constantly, and one night, Gauguin walked out. Van Gogh was absolutely heartbroken and the fear of losing a friend intensified his psychological struggle. It is believed that on that night Vincent cut his ear and presented it to a prostituted and asked her to keep this object carefully.
Van Gogh decided to move to the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence after the people of Arles signed a petition saying that he was dangerous. On May 8, 1889, he began painting in the hospital gardens. In November 1889, he was invited to exhibit his paintings in Brussels. He sent six paintings, including “Irises” and “Starry Night.” Around this time, Theo sold van Gogh’s “The Red Vineyards” painting for 400 francs. Also around this time, Dr. Paul Gachet, who lived in Auvers, about 20 miles north of Paris, agreed to take van Gogh as his patient. Van Gogh moved to Auvers and rented a room. In July of that year, Vincent van Gogh shot himself in the chest and few days later gave up his soul.
“I often think that the night is more alive
More richly colored the day”