Van Gogh’s Art in the Context of His Life

Edge of a Wheat Field with Poppies and a Lark by Vincent Van Gogh OSA401Vincent van Gogh was a person with a difficult and dramatic life. He was a poor, unknown artist suffering from a mental disease. But his perseverance, use of art as a skill to cope with illness, dedication to art, and the support of his brother helped him to keep on painting. He developed his own style of impasto painting and pushed the boundaries of impressionism. This approach to art set van Gogh’s place among the most famous artists in history, and though he died unknown, now his name is synonymous with being an artist.

When van Gogh stayed at the mental hospital in Saint-Remy, he used painting as a coping skill to help himself deal with his symptoms. It is a well-known fact that van Gogh had psychological problems; once, he attacked his friend Gauguin, and according to the most popular version of the story from historians, after that he cut half of his ear off with a razor. The admitting physician described Vincent van Gogh’s symptoms as mania with hallucinations (Van Gogh Museum, 2005). During his hospitalization, he created 150 paintings. Instead of allowing himself to get discouraged during his stay at the hospital, van Gogh persevered and continued to work on his paintings.

Throughout van Gogh’s life, his brother Theo was a source of financial and emotional support. Though Theo is often credited with introducing the world to Vincent van Gogh’s art, his efforts might have failed without the support of Theo’s wife, Johanna van Gogh. After all, Theo died just two months after Vincent (Righthand, 2010). Through Theo’s showing of Vincent’s work, he had begun to gain some notoriety. However, Johanna prized Vincent’s art and relied on selling some of the paintings to help support her young son (Righthand, 2010).

Van Gogh was a prolific artist. He painted for 10 years, and during this period of time, he created 860 pieces of art (Van Gogh Museum, 2005). His paintings demonstrate a clear style of movement and color in thick layers of paint. Artists cannot gain attention without having an original, notable style of their own—so Vincent van Gogh worked on developing his distinct style. Instead of merely copying the impressionism style popular back then, he transformed it into his own; now van Gogh is recognized as being an artist of post-impressionism.

Vincent van Gogh became one of the most famous artists in history. He used art as a tool to fight his mental illness. Despite his difficulties, he diligently worked on his paintings; with the help of his family, he dedicated 10 years of his life to producing an incredible number of paintings. After his death, his family continued to promote Vincent’s work. With van Gogh’s well-defined style and numerous works, he became an artist adored globally postmortem.

References

Righthand, J. (2010, November 2). The Woman Who Brought Van Gogh to the World. Retrieved from http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/The-Woman-Who-Brought-Van-Gogh-to-the-World.html.

Van Gogh Museum. (2005). Van Gogh’s Life. Retrieved from http://www.vangoghmuseum.nl/vgm/index.jsp?page=12267&lang=nl.

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