Vincent Van Gogh. An artist of another kind.

Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) He was a Dutch post-impressionist painter who is among the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art.

He created approximately 2,100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings, most of them in the last two years of his life. These works include landscapes, portraits and self-portraits, and are characterized by bold, symbolic colors, and dramatic, impulsive and highly expressive brushwork that contributed to the foundations of modern art. He sold only one painting during his lifetime and became famous after his suicide at age 37, which followed years of poverty and mental illness.

Van Gogh left school at 14 years of age.  He took his first job in 1869, working as a trainee at the international art dealer Goupil & Cie.  Van Gogh had a very special relationship with his brother Theo.  Van Gogh often included little sketches in the letters he sent his brother Theo and sometimes enclosed a drawing of what he had seen. Van Gogh’s job took him to London and Paris. He briefly became a professor and a priest in Belgium.

At the age of 27, he devoted his ceer to art.  He moved around, teaching himself to draw and paint and receiving financial support from Theo.  At this point, Van Gogh did not have a job for which he received a regular salary.  In 1883 he moved to Nuenen. During his stay in Nuenen he painted some of his famous works, like The Vicarage at Nuenen, The Potato Eaters, The Discus Thrower and Head of a Skeleton with a Burning Cigarette.

In 1886, Van Gogh moved to Paris and was influenced by Toulouse-Lautrec, Pissarro and Gauguin, with whom he became friends. His style changed significantly under the influence of Impressionism, becoming lighter and brighter. He painted a large number of self-portraits in this period.

In 1888, Van Gogh painted his Sunflowers.  Interestingly, his brother Theo introduced Van Gogh to the colorful work of prominent modern artists like Claude Monet. All those new impressions and new people had an influence on his own work and inspired him to experiment freely. The dark tones quickly gave way to brighter colors, as in The Hill of Montmartre with Stone Quarry and sunflowers.

It is in this period when Van Gogh cut off his ear in an argument. This was the first serious sign of the mental health problems from which was suffering. He spent time in psychiatric hospitals and alternated between periods of inertia, depression and incredibly concentrated artistic activity, his work reflecting the intense colors and strong light of the countryside around him.

On July 27, 1890, again suffering from depression, Van Gogh shot himself. He died two days later.

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Sources:

https://www.vangoghmuseum.nl/en/vincents-life-and-work

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/van_gogh_vincent.shtml

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vincent_van_Gogh

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