Art Appreciation / Vincent Van Gogh
Vincent Van Gogh was born on March 30th in 1853 in Zundert, The Netherlands. Vincent’s father was a protestant minister. Vincent actually enjoyed his father’s profession and admired it. Vincent Van Gogh was a very unique individual and as a child he was described to be serous and introspective child. Today Vincent Van Gogh is considered one of the best Dutch Painters after The great Rembrandt.
However as good of an artist that Van Gogh was he did not show much fame until after his death. In about ten years before he fell victim of a mental illness Van Gogh produced a massive amount of paintings and drawings in such a short period. He had around nine hundred paintings and eleven hundred drawings in that short time period. Unfortunately his death was from suicide, about eleven years after his death there was showing in Paris that showed seventy one of Van Gogh’s paintings and this is when his fame truly blossomed. Van Gogh was a huge influence on early abstraction, fauvism, and expressionism. A few of Van Gogh’s paintings are known to be range as some of the most expensive paintings in the world.
When Van Gogh was sixteen years old he worked for an art company called “Goupil & Company”. Van Gogh’s younger brother Theo also worked for the company. Vincent and Theo were known to be very close to each other they were the best of friends. Theo was also there to help supports Vincent financially in his life when Vincent was going through hard times.
In 1873 the art company transferred Van Gogh to London, and then to Paris. During the time these transfers were going on Vincent became heavily interested in religion, like his father. In 1876 Goupil and Company’s fired him from his job because they said he had a lack of motivation. After that he became a teaching assistant in Ramsgate, which was near London. Vincent Van Gogh did not last long as a teaching assistant and by 1877 he returned back to Amsterdam to study Theology. Vincent Van Gogh did not last long studying theology either, he dropped out by 1978. After dropping out he became a poor layman preacher in a poor mining region known as the Borinage. Vincent worked hard and even preached down in the mines and was very concerned with a lot of the workers. After only six months he was dismissed but he still continued to preach even without pay. During the time of his preaching he began to produce charcoal sketches.
In 1880 Vincent’s brother Theo suggested that Vincent go to Earnest and take up painting. Vincent Van Gogh agreed. For a short time Van Gogh took painting lessons from Anton Muave at a place called “The Hague”. Although Vincent and Anton soon ended up splitting because of differences in artistic views, you were able to see influences in Van Gogh’s work from The Hague School. Some of the things that he learned from the Hague school was the way that he played with light, and the looseness of his brush strokes. However it was the usage of his colors, mostly favoring dark tones that separated him from his teacher.
In 1881 Van Gogh declared his love for his widowed cousin Kee Vos, who ended up rejecting him. Later in life he decide to move in with a prostitute named Sien Hoornik and her children. Van Gogh wanted to marry her, however his father and his brother Theo were strictly against is and told him that he should not marry her. Van Gogh being as close as he was with Theo listened to his brother’s wise words and they soon broke up. Van Gogh became very impressed and influenced by the work of Jean Francois Millet. Vincent began to focus on painting peasants and rural scenes. He then moves to Dutch province Drenthe, then to Neuenen, then to North Brabant, and finally the Netherlands. It was now 1885 when he was painting in the Netherlands.
In the winter of 1885-1886 Van Gogh attended the Art Academy of Antwerp, Belgium. However disappointed he was dismissed only after a few months by his professor. During this time though Van Gogh got in touch with Japanese Art, and started to collect a lot of it. He liked Japanese art because he admired the bright colors, the use of canvas and the roll lines played in the picture. The Japanese Art influenced him greatly; Van Gogh made some of his paintings in the Japanese style. Also some of the portraits Van Gogh painted were set against a back ground that shows Japanese art.
In the spring of 1886 Vincent moved to Paris and moved in with his brother Theo, and the two of them shared a house in Montmartre. Here is where he met the famous painters; Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro, Bernard, Henri de Toulose Lautrec and Paul Gaugin. He then discovered “Impressionism” and really enjoyed its use of light and color, more than its lack of social engagement. He especially liked pointillism, which was where many small dots are applied to canvas then blend into rich colors only in the eye of the beholder, seeing it from a distance. Van Gogh is considered more of a post impressionist rather than a impressionist. In 1888 when city life and living with his brother was not really working out anymore Van Gogh move to Arles, Bouches Du Rh France. Van Gogh became very impressed with the local landscape and was hoping to find an Art Colony. Van Gogh decorated a yellow house and painted a series of yellow sunflower paintings. Paul Gaugin admired his work and began painting Van Gogh sunflowers. However their encounter ended in a quarrel. Van Gogh suffered from a mental breakdown and cut off his left ear and gave it to his prostitute friend. Gaugin ended up leaving in 1888. The only painting that Van Gogh sold while he was alive was “The Red Vineyard” which was made in 1888.
Vincent Van Gogh stopped painting dots and began painting stripes, and was also suffering from depression. In 1889 on his own request Vincent was admitted to a psychiatric center at Monastery Saint Paul de Masuole in Saint Remy de Provence, Bouches Du Rh, France. During his time in the clinic he spent most of his time in the garden doing his work. His pencil strokes changed again into spiral curves.
In May 1890 Van Gogh left the clinic and went to a physician named Paul Gachet, in Auvers Sur Oise. Vincent wanted to be close to his brother Theo; his brother had also just recently been married. Paul Gachet was actually recommended to Van Gogh by Pissarro. Paul Gachet had treated a few other artist before Van Gogh as well. When he was being taken care of by Doctor Gachet he had created his only etching which was a portrait of the Doctor. Unfortunately his depressions only got worse. On July 27th 1890 at 37 years old Van Gogh had went and done a painting activity, Van Gogh shot himself in the chest. Vincent Van Gogh died two days later. According to Vincent’s brother Theo Vincent’s last words were “La Tristesse durera toujours” which means the sadness will last forever. Unfortunately Vincent’s loyal and loving brother Theo was not able to deal with his death and died six months later. Theo was buried right next to Vincent. Vincent Van Gogh’s mother threw away a large number of Vincent’s paintings during his life and even after his death. She was able to live long enough to see how famous her son became after his death.
My all time favorite painting By the legendary Vincent Van Gogh is “The Starry Night”. The Starry Night was created in June 1889, it was an oil on canvas painting, 72 by 92 centimeters, and it is now in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. This painting was done by his mental asylum in Saint Remy about thirteen months before he died. Van Gogh painted very aggressively and you can tell by this picture it is very dark and furious. It looks like there is a lot going on in the sky by his loose brush strokes it looks very hectic and then the stars just sit their gleaming, as if there is peace. I really enjoy the swirls and loose strokes throughout the painting. I feel like the color is very dark in this painting, it gives a sort of spooky look to it. The Unity and Variety is very intense in this particular painting because there is just so much going on everywhere you look. The motion and Rhythm are very smooth and fluent throughout the whole piece. The cultural and central theme seems very modern in this painting, I believe that building in the bottom right corner is a church or something symbolic like that since he liked religion. In this painting the sky sticks out to me the most really catches my attention because I like how the stars real shine and the dark night sky has so many spirals. This one specific painting from Van Gogh reminds me of some of Picasso’s paintings because there is just so much going on in them. I think this painting can strongly convey emotion when I look at it, it first brings out a depressing feeling until you notice the b rightness of the stars and it brings peace. My overall assessment of this painting is that is very unique and very successful and possibility the best piece of work Van Gogh has ever made.
The Story of Art – by E.H. Gombrich