1853 (Groot-Zundest, Holland)
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self-portraits and sunflowers painting
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A colorist whose signature work reflected his personal struggle with
madness, Vincent Van Gogh found little praise for his art during his
lifetime, and with little self-confidence and plagued by depression and
unhappy personal relationships, took his life when he was 37 years
He was born in Holland to a family of culture and religious conviction
reinforced by the father who was a pastor. Van Gogh worked as a
bookstore clerk, a preacher and an art-store salesman while studying
art in Belgium. His goal was to create happiness for others by
creating beautiful paintings, and his early works were somber and
muted. In 1885, he discovered work by Rubens as well as Japanese
prints, and both had a big influence on his future paintings.
He went to Paris in 1886, where he joined his brother, Théo, who was
managing the Goupil Gallery. Vincent studied with Fernand Cormon
and lightened his painting palette from exposure to Impressionism and
its artists including Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro. However,
his health deterioriated as he was very nervous, drove himself hard by
painting long hours and depriving himself of sleep with 'all-night'
To change his routine, he went to Arles in Southern France with the
idea of founding an art school. He urged his friends to join him,
and only Paul Gaughin obliged, which turned into a disastrous event
because Van Gogh, suffering epilepsy, chased Gaughin with a razor and
ended up cutting off his own ear. From that time, he had fits of
madness alternating with sanity, and was institutionalized at
Saint-Remy for treatment.
In late spring of 1890, showing much improvement, he went to
Auvers-sur-Oise to live, but shot himself two months later.
During his lifetime he had sold only one painting, and it was written
that his "finest works were produced in less than three years in a
technique that grew more and more impassioned in brushstroke, in
symbolic and intense color, in surface tension, and in the movement and
vibration of form and line."
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