Saturday, April 26, 2014

V is for Van Gogh

A failed pastor.
A starving artist.
A devoted brother.
Vincent Van Gogh changed art forever.


Van Gogh was born in the province of North Brabant in the Netherlands. Like his father, a Methodist minister, Vincent felt drawn to work in the church and took an assistant pastor’s job in a poor coal-mining region in Southern Belgium. While there he noticed the demeanor and tired faces of the poor residents and started to draw and paint them.  

Although he failed at pastoring he proved inspired at drawing. In his late 20s he moved to Paris where he spent time with his brother, Théo, an art dealer. In Paris Théo encouraged Vincent to draw and paint. 

Growing tired of Paris, Vincent moved to the South of France settling in Auvers where Provence’s bright sunshine and vibrant colors intrigued and inspired him artistically. Soon these colors and the light quality appeared in his artwork. He employed plenty of paint, applying it in thick masses. He also used colors in unique ways, for example, in one of his self portraits he gave himself a green face. 

In a decade’s time he created over 2,000 paintings, sketches and drawings. Yet he was unhappy and suffered from mental illness. At 37 he died of a gunshot wound. 

The bright colors he infused his paintings with greatly appealed to viewers and fellow painters alike. In the 20th century, his fame grew. People were captivated by his vision of white blooming almond trees, blue irises and portraits of Dr. Gachet. In 1990 one of his paintings of Dr. Gachet sold for $149 million dollars. A single painting.  

Some 200 of his paintings are on view at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. This is the largest collection of Van Goghs under one roof anywhere in the world. The museum also displays letters and personal effects of the artist. The museum is often crowded thus illustrating how many people still admire and are touched by his emotional works and life. 

Vincent Van Gogh was both ahead of his time and timeless, which it’s too shabby for a failed pastor.