11.6.11

Vincent van Gogh


Van Gogh (1853–1890) was a Dutch post-Impressionist painter whose work had a far-reaching influence on 20th century art for its vivid colors and emotional impact. He suffered from anxiety and increasingly frequent bouts of mental illness throughout his life, and died largely unknown, at the age of 37, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Little appreciated during his lifetime, his fame grew in the years after his death. Today, he is widely regarded as one of history's greatest painters and an important contributor to the foundations of modern art. Van Gogh did not begin painting until his late twenties, and most of his best-known works were produced during his final two years. He produced more than 2,000 artworks, consisting of around 900 paintings and 1,100 drawings and sketches. Although he was little known during his lifetime, his work was a strong influence on the Modernist art that followed. Today many of his pieces—including his numerous self portraits, landscapes, portraits and sunflowers—are among the world's most recognizable and expensive works of art.
Vincent only sold one painting during his lifetime and Van Gogh had a very unhappy life, only became famous after his death.
In his final letter to Theo, Vincent admitted that as he did not have any children, he viewed his paintings as his progeny. Reflecting on this, the historian Simon Schama concluded that he "did have a child of course, Expressionism, and many, many heirs." Schama mentioned a wide number of artists who have adapted elements of Van Gogh's style, including Willem de Kooning, Howard Hodgkin and Jackson Pollock. The French Fauves, including Henri Matisse, extended both his use of color and freedom in applying it,[159] as did German Expressionists in the Die Brücke group. Abstract Expressionism of the 1940s and 1950s is seen as in part inspired from Van Gogh's broad, gestural brush strokes.

Painter on the Road to Tarascon (The Painter on His Way to Work), 1888. Oil on canvas, 48 × 44 cm. Formerly in Magdeburg Museum, destroyed by fire in WWII.

The artist walks to work, carrying his equipment. He is walking among green and yellow fields, with the open sky above him, and hills only visible in the distance. Meanwhile, the sun is high in the sky. The painting reflects the Van Gogh's optimism at the beginning of his stay in Arles, with an idyllic impression of his surroundings at this time.

In 1957, Francis Bacon (1909–1992) based a series of paintings on reproductions of Van Gogh's The Painter on the Road to Tarascon, the original of which was destroyed during World War II. Bacon was inspired by not only an image he described as "haunting", but also Van Gogh himself. Regarding Van Gogh as an alienated outsider, Bacon identified with him. Bacon was also fond of Van Gogh's theories on art and quoted some lines written from a letter to Theo, "Real painters do not paint things as they are... They paint them as they themselves feel them to be" (The Art Newspaper, 2009).


Wheat Field with cypresses, 1889. Oil on canvas, 73 × 92 cm. National Gallery, London


Cottages with Thatched Roofs, Auvers-sur-Oise, June 1890. Oil on canvas. Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Online resources
Wikipedia
Commons
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