Vincent van Gogh Biography
Vincent Willem Van Gogh was born on March 30th in 1853 in Zundert Netherlands. He was a post-impressionist artist who left behind great artworks that have influenced the Western art significantly (Van Heugten 29). Van Gogh is regarded as one of the greatest artists of all times due to his contributions to expressionism, although he died at the age of 37 (Van Heugten 29). His paintings which were more than 2000 were mainly oil-based on canvas. Most of them incorporated bold outlines which made them unique and edgy; they incorporated striking colors and elaborate contours. He chose to be an artist at the age of 27, and his decision revolutionized art for years to come (Walker et al 13). Initially, Van Gogh wanted to become a Protestant minister; he thus joined an evangelical institution in Brussels to pursue theology. He was born in a religious family as his father was a clergyman. He aspired to serve humanity and attempt to make a positive difference in the world. However, he was fired from his job due to his unorthodox approach to religion, and this compelled him to consider painting. This affected his mental state significantly as he isolated himself from others as he felt hopeless; he also regarded himself as an outcast of the society. He had a calm personality and was mainly an introverted person although he was analytical and thoughtful. He loved spending time in nature where he got significant inspiration for his artworks.
Van Gogh was considered an insane man mainly because he developed a mental illness at an early age. He had a troubled childhood as he grew up in a low-income family. He experienced significant depression which made him more religious and served as a Protestant missionary. His deteriorating mental health caused him to experience psychotic episodes. As a result, he failed to take care of his well-being, and he inflicted severe injuries. Van Gogh survived under deplorable conditions; he did not afford enough food, and this affected his physical health. However, he had a close friendship with his brother Theo, and this is evident in hundreds of letters exchanged between the two (Lewis 12). These letters have enabled scholars to study Van Gogh’s state of mind including his emotions and ideas for humanity. However, his severe mental state forced him to become alcoholic as a means of repressing his struggles. Van Gogh expressed his emotions through art; this helped enhance his self-confidence and stability. He was a proficient linguistic, and in 1869 he started working for an art dealership, Goupil and Cie in Hague (Lewis 15). He enjoyed working and regularly visited the museum of Hague where his inspiration for art increased tremendously. In 1873, he received a transfer to London to work for a branch of Goupil and Cie. Van Gough cited that he spent his most joyous life in London whereby he advanced his knowledge and skills in art. His income had improved drastically and therefore; he could afford various necessities. He also pursued his romantic interests but was largely unsuccessful.
1880 was a significant year for Van Gogh; he left his religious affiliations and became committed fully in arts (Walker et al 20). Initially, his artworks reflected the poor conditions under which miners worked. During this time, he interacted with a famous post-expressionist landscape painter, Anton Mauve and this gave him the opportunity to nurture his painting talent. Anton taught him different aspects of art including watercolors. In 1881, he enrolled in an art school at the Brussels Academy and became a full-time painter (Lewis 21). He reestablished contact with Mauve and began painting with oil. He also visited different museums whereby he analyzed a variety of drawings from different artists. Van Gogh took note of the artistic styles used on the drawings, and this perfected his future artworks. He also continued to spend time in nature and among a poor community in Northern Holland. The lives of the peasants in this region were a key inspiration for his first paintings. He wanted to capture and demonstrate the deplorable conditions experienced by the peasants. In 1886, after the death of his father, he created one of his most renowned masterpiece, The Potato Eaters (Van Heugten 35). He hoped to portray the humble character of peasants living in the northern Netherlands. The heap of potatoes represented the poor conditions of peasants who relied heavily on farming to make the ends meet. He combined dull and bright colors to alter the mood of the setting.
Van Gogh once said “I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process” (Lewis 34) Van Gogh continued to focus entirely on his artistry development and enrolled to Antwerp Academy where he enhanced his skills. He later moved to Paris where he encountered with renowned artists at the time including Paul Gauguin who inspired his impressionist painting style. He was also able to update his knowledge on the French art and the contemporary painting. During this time, he exhibited interests in Japan prints and begun experimenting with the Japanese and pointillist painting styles which incorporated tiny dots to form a vivid outline. In 1887, he started developing self-portraits integrating hued drawings; one such portrait showcases him as a depressed man. In 1888, Van Gogh took his painting career a notch higher and began focusing primarily on landscapes after moving to Aries. He creates a number of seashore landscapes which later became his masterpieces including Sunflowers, Decoration of the Yellow House and Memory of the Garden at Etten. He wanted to establish an artistry society in Aries to foster and nurture talents; however, he faced significant challenges due to lack of financial resources. Gauguin joins him in Aries; however, Van Gough began developing disabling mental breakdowns which affected his interpersonal relationship profoundly. He felt isolated for the most part of his life and did not want Gauguin to leave him. This affected his mental health profoundly as he experienced a bout of depression. He had completed his artwork, The Painter of Sunflowers while working together with Gauguin.
Van Gogh personality altered and he adapted self-destructive behavior including violence. He kept threatening Gauguin and even held a razor blade at him. He ended up cutting his left ear and this led to his hospitalization in the asylum at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence (Van Gogh 8). His brother, Theo continued to take care of him while he was hospitalized in Aries (Walker et al. 27). While at the Asylum, he experienced memory loss and depended heavily on observation to create portraits. His condition improved slightly and was able to create one of his most renowned portraits, “The Starry Night.” This was a remarkable painting which he drew from his bedroom window. He has also painted “Irises” which is a masterpiece that has influenced the contemporary western art to date. He created his final artwork, “Wheatfield with Crows” which reflected his post-impressionist prowess in art. He mainly used bold colors such as blue and green and incorporated curves and circular lines to portray motion and graphic images. In July 1890, Van Gogh committed suicide by after a self-infected gunshot which caused intense bleeding. His sophisticated brushwork and use of colors which revealed emotions continued to influence an array of modern painters. However, he died a poor man as he was not popular during his time and only managed to sell a single artwork.