Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)

As one of the leaders of the post-impressionist movement, Vincent Willem van Gogh s art represents the idea of emotional spontaneity in painting. Famous van Gogh paintings, such as Starry Night and Self Portrait, have served as a major influence on scores of other artists.

Born March 30, 1853 in Groot-Zundert, Denmark, he often presented a moody, impatient disposition that would be the downfall for most of his professional pursuits. Early van Gogh paintings reflect on his time as an Evangelical preacher in Belgium, where he ministered among the miners at Wasmes.

Van Gogh s brother Theo, an art dealer, encouraged Vincent to move to Paris in early 1886. It was here that impressionism would begin its influence and shaper later van Gogh paintings. Inspired by the impressionists and other artists such as Paul Gauguin, van Gogh began to experiment with the current techniques that would later leave a lasting mark on the art community.

In 1888, van Gogh moved to the town of Arles in southern France. It was during this period that he began to use the swirling brush strokes and intense yellows, greens and blues associated with works such as Arles les Irises and Sower With a Setting Sun. All visible phenomena, whether painted or hand-drawn, seemed to be infused with a physical and spiritual strength that can be seen throughout many van Gogh paintings.

During this enthusiastic time for van Gogh, he persuaded fellow artist Paul Gauguin to join him in Arles. Two months after Gauguin s arrival, the two artists began to have violent arguments, one of which culminated in van Gogh threatening Gauguin with a razor. Later that night, van Gogh sliced off part of his own ear in remorse over the threat. Subsequently, van Gogh spent time at a hospital in Arles and later spent a year in an asylum in the town on Saint-Rmy.

Van Gogh s hospital stints would not end here. He would go on to spend three months at Auvers, where the sympathetic Dr. Gachet cared for him. Unfortunately, after treatments proved ineffective, van Gogh shot himself on July 27,1890 and passed away two days later.

More than 700 letters van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo were published in 1911 and translated in 1958. The letters bear the record of an artist who produced a tremendous amount of work that included 750 paintings and 1600 drawings.






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