Vincent Van Gogh
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Vincent van Gogh began painting in 1879, and continued until his death in 1890. He died a premature death due to the decay of his mental stability, which led to a botched suicide attempt, causing his death two days later. He painted in the period of post-impressionism, during which he made 750 paintings, 1,600 drawings, nine lithographs, and one etching. Some of his most famous and most influential works include Starry Night, The Potato Eaters, and All-Night CafÐ”©.
Vincent Willem van Gogh was born on March thirtieth of 1853 in the southern Netherlands. His father was a Protestant minister, a point that will show importance in his life later on. At the ripe age of sixteen, Vincent started an apprenticeship at an art dealership, Goupil & Co., then at the age of twenty he moved to the Goupil in London. Daily contact with works of art kindles his appreciation of paintings and drawings. In 1876, he returned to London to work as a teacher and a preacher, obsessed with ministering to the poor. After he is refused admittance to a theology school he moves to a coal mining area. There, he deeply connects with the miners, which draws disfavor from the church, causing him to be dismissed.
Van Gogh decided that he would become an artist, wishing to depict the life of the poor. In 1885, he paints The Potato Eaters. In this piece, the dark colors used show his lack of knowledge of how other Impressionists were painting at the time. Then, in 1886, Vincent moved to Montemarte where he sees for himself how the Impressionists handle light and color. “What is required in art nowadays,” he writes, “is something very much alive, very strong in color, very much intensified.
In 1887, Vincents work begins to be influenced by Japanese prints that he bought. Then the next year, Vincent moved to southern France where he was immediately struck by the hot reds and yellows of the Mediterranean. Those colors were then increasingly used symbolically to represent his moods.
It was in France where personal tensions grew between himself and Gaugin. It was during a fight with Gaugin when Vincent broke down and experienced a psychotic episode. Vincent threatens Gaugin with a razor and then later cuts off a piece of his own left ear. He gave the piece of ear to a prostitute named Rachel and he asked her, “keep this object carefully.”4 He is then admitted to a hospital in Arles and stays there through January 1889. After he is released from the hospital he suffers from a deep depression and admits himself to the psychiatric centre at Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole in Saint Remy de Provence, Bouches-du-RhÐ”Òne, France.5
During his stay here the clinic and its garden became his main subject. At this time his work began to be dominated by swirls. This is especially shown in his most famous painting, The Starry Night.
In May 1890, Vincent left the clinic and went to the physician Paul Gachet. Gachet had treated several artists before and had been recommended to him by Pissarro. Vincents depression deepened, and on July 27, at the age of 37, Van Gogh shot himself in the chest. The immediate result was that he survived, and he returned to the Ravoux Inn. He died there two days later, with Theo at his side, who reported his last words as “La tristesse durera toujours” (French for “the sadness will last forever”).
In his career, van Gogh painted approximately 750 paintings, 1,600 drawings, 9 lithographs, and 1 etching. All these works were done in a period of