The curators of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam have worked for years on a new edition of his letters, five volumes of them, with facsimiles, English translations, copious illustrations: in short, such a complete insight into Van Gogh's life that it redefines him for this century. Reading the new edition of Van Gogh's letters from cover to cover turned out to be a shocking, upsetting, at times frustrating experience that destroyed my previous idea of this great artist.
I had previously formed an almost reassuring view of Van Gogh as an intense, troubled, tragic, yet at the same time inspiring man. The sheer mass of peculiarities and sadnesses makes him uttely real and — for all his genius — less easy to empathise with. His achievement was not to conquer illness, but to drag something out of its isolating darkness. Long before he became an artist, he was a writer.
It does you a lot of good when you're out of spirits, as I quite often am nowadays.
His earliest surviving letters date from , when he was His very first, dated 29 September , is addressed to Theo — as is his last, dated 23 July He wrote to other people too — including artist friends such as Emile Bernard and Paul Gauguin, and his sister Wilhelmina, who was herself to spend decades in an asylum. Together these letters amount to a literary work of epic proportions. It's not just that Van Gogh wrote letters.
He poured his heart into them. You smell the very tobacco-laden breath and musty clothes of Van Gogh.
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The shape of the man these massed words slowly reveal is much baggier and saggier and perplexing than any actor in any film could portray. Often the silences say the most. A series of letters from were destroyed by his family for the embarrassing reason that in these months his father was making active plans to have him incarcerated in a psychiatric hospital. This was nearly a decade before the crisis that led to his eventual hospitalisation. Van Gogh's family doubted his mental wellbeing all along. When it became more than that, it was to kill them both — for when Vincent succumbed to his visionary extremes, his brother's health collapsed and he died soon afterwards like a grief-struck spouse.
The copiousness, too, is eloquent. The excess of Van Gogh's need to communicate becomes tragic. It so clearly exceeds what Theo can say in reply, what anyone can say. Sometimes he gets a reply, sometimes he doesn't. Always he is alone. Art saves him. His letters take on a new joy and conviction when he starts teaching himself to draw. The most uplifting letter he ever wrote was sent from Etten, where his parents were then living, to Theo in September In it, he describes his efforts to draw the local peasants at work and in their cottages.
The reason it is so beautiful is that he includes sketches of what he has been doing. These sketches are marvellous — even though he has only recently started drawing, and has no formal art education. He is so manifestly gifted. He is, suddenly, on his way. As he says in the letter, "a change has come about in my drawing. I'm no longer so powerless in the face of nature as I used to be. This is such a good new start, you are crushed that it did not lead to a steady improvement. Instead, he fell out with his family again , set up studio in The Hague, but alienated his friends there — not to mention Theo, who was paying.
His drawing went on getting stronger but there was no parallel conquest of everyday life. Nor did things improve when he migrated to France. Then on 20 February he got off the train in Arles in Provence, where he planned to found a colony for artists, a "studio of the south". The collapse of that dream is the most infamous chapter in his life.
After a lot of cajoling from Theo, Gauguin agreed to stay with Vincent, as potentially the leader of the studio. But they started arguing, Van Gogh got more and more stressed, and suddenly confronted Gauguin with a razor. That same night he cut off part of his own ear and gave the bloody flesh to a horrified prostitute. Incidentally, the expanded letters expose as nonsense the ridiculous idea floated last year that Gauguin cut off Van Gogh's ear with a sword. No reader can miss the emotional thread of self-violence in them — and a clear statement of what happened appears in a letter where he actually says, "I.
The full correspondence lets you see how spiritually intoxicated he was before Gauguin arrived. Almost as soon as he got to Arles, the red-headed northerner started painting in a new, incomparable way. The sun entered his paints. It got in his head — "I feel fine working outside in the hottest part of the day. It's a clean, dry heat. Naturally this induces orange — a face tanned by the sun looks orange.
They are fire. Van Gogh came to believe he was mad when he made them. Moreover, the illness is inseparable from the artistic triumph Provence inspired.
Vincent van Gogh | fyxohahyso.tk
This is surely a true insight into these rapturous paintings. As a result, he adopted brighter, more vibrant colors in his art and began experimenting with his technique. Two years later, in , van Gogh moved to Arles where he was later joined by his new friend Gauguin. It was at this time that he created Sunflowers, one of his signature pieces. Advanced Years: At the end of van Gogh's mental illness worsened and in one outburst he pursued Gauguin with a knife, threatening him. Later that day, van Gogh cut off part of his own ear then offered it to a prostitute as a gift.
He was temporarily hospitalized and Gauguin left the home they shared, ending van Goghs dream of setting up an art school.
He left the asylum in and in July of that year attempted suicide by shooting himself in the chest. He died two days later from the wound aged Van Goghs closest brother, Theo died just six months later and his widow published van Goghs work, gaining his the recognition he longed for. The Potato Eaters. Self-portrait with Straw Hat. Van Gogh worked with a great sense of urgency and in the 70 days leading up to his death, he is said to have averaged one painting per day.
It was only when he was satisfied with his drawing technique that he began adding color. Van Gogh regarded drawing as a basic task enabling him to grow artistically and to study form and movement. As well as drawing, van Gogh produced nearly watercolor paintings during his career. In van Gogh began experimenting with lithography and went on to create a series of ten graphic works: nine lithographs and one etching.
The Potato Eaters was intended for the marketplace and he made a lithograph of the piece so that it reached a broader audience. Middle Years: Many people consider van Gogh's letters to be another form of artwork because they include sketches of pieces he was working on or had just finished, and they show the progression of his masterpieces.
When he moved to Paris in he was greatly influenced by the work of the Impressionists and Neo-Impressionists. He began using a lighter palette of reds, yellows, oranges, greens, and blues, and experimented with the broken brushstrokes of the Impressionists. Van Gogh was also hugely influenced by Japanese prints. Advanced Years: Vincent van Gogh painted over 30 self-portraits between the years and , reflecting his ongoing pursuit of complementary colors and a bolder form.
His collection of self-portraits places him among the most dynamic self-portraitists of all time. In van Gogh moved from Paris to Arles and lived for some time with Gauguin. Gauguin bought a bale of jute and both artists used this for their canvases, forcing them to apply paint thickly and to use heavier brush strokes.
Van Gogh started to imitate Gauguin's technique of painting from memory during this time which resulted in his paintings becoming less realistic. Paul Gauguin.
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Moving to Paris had a dramatic and lasting effect on van Goghs work. Inspired by Impressionism and Post-impressionism he began using more vivid colors and experimented further with his technique. He also spent time researching the styles of Japanese artwork. In Paris van Gogh was also influenced by painters such as Gauguin, Pissarro, Monet, and Bernard and developed a close friendship with Gauguin who eventually became one of the biggest artistic influences on van Gogh.
The pair met in Paris in and later lived together in Arles where they adopted a similar technique of applying paint more thickly and using heavy brushstrokes. Their themes were also very similar at this time, mainly landscapes and local people.
Even when Gauguin left Arles and moved to Paris, his influence on van Gogh was obvious; van Gogh began painting from memory, as Gauguin had done, and this resulted in his works becoming more decorative and less accurate. Because of his work as a missionary, van Gogh identified with the lower classes and like Millet, he considered farmers and laborers to be honorable people, which was evident in his work. Millets depictions of peasants and the countryside impacted greatly on van Goghs early offerings.
According to van Gogh: Millet is father Millet As well as Millet, artists such as Rembrandt, Delacroix , Rousseau and Daumier had a profound impact on van Goghs choice of subject matter, as did the Japanese masters of ukiyo-e. Van Goghs unique brushwork and vibrant palette inspired many great artists such as Matisse, Gauguin, Derain, Pollock and Bacon. Each artist adopted and in some cases extended elements of van Goghs style, eager to preserve his famous technique. They adopted similar painting techniques and depicted the same subject matters during this time. After an incident in December whereby van Gogh threatened him with a knife, Gauguin left Arles and never saw his friend again, only communicating via letter.
Their time together greatly affected the others work and Gauguin began to adopt a brighter palette, using color to express his art. He was fond of using yellow and like van Gogh, used thicker brush strokes in his canvases. After Death: Van Gogh provided inspiration for a great many artists, and Henri Matisse and Paul Klee, were among the first to be inspired by his individual technique. Matisse was influenced by van Gogh and had one of his drawings on display in his home.