An Essay on Van Gogh and His Works

Vincent Van Gogh was a unique and unusual man. The famous suffering artist aimed to express his mental, emotional, and spiritual state in his paintings. Van Gogh is one of the most famous artists of our time, though he only sold one painting during his lifetime. Each of his paintings showed how Van Gogh viewed each scene through his mind, heart, eyes all laid out on paper. Vincent Van Gogh’s mental disorders and suicide can be credited to people seeing him as a failure during his lifetime, but today he is considered one of the greatest artists in post impressionism.

Vincent Van Gogh was born March 30, 1853 and died July 29, 1890 (Britannica). Christmas Eve, 1888, Van Gogh just snapped physically and emotionally. He and Gauguin kept fighting because Gauguin wanted him to paint from his imagination but Van Gogh only wanted to paint things in front of him. When, Van Gogh threatened Gauguin with a razor Gauguin got scared and spent the night in the boarding house. Van Gogh repeatedly was arguing with Gauguin and eventually cut off the lower half of his left ear from supposedly chasing Gauguin with a razor. He then took his bloody ear to a woman named Rachel and told her to guard it carefully. He went to a mental hospital then came home two days later.

Van Gogh started showing severe mental disturbance several weeks later after returning home. Van Gogh voluntarily entered the asylum fearing that he would have another breakdown on May 1889. In the asylum, he painted around 150 canvases over the course of a year. While being shut in the mental hospital, he painted the Starry Night, Garden of the Asylum, Cypresses, Olive Trees, Les Alpilles, and then just portraits of doctors (Britannica). The last nineteen months of Van Gogh’s life were spent fighting a mental illness. Many doctors believe that his illness had something to do with the death of his older brother.

Some doctors thought that Van Gogh had paranoia and manic depression, while others thought it had something to do with alcohol. No doctors could conclude what he had wrong with him. Van Gogh was given an extra room inside the clinic to use as a studio. Venturing beyond the grounds of the hospital, Van Gogh started painting the surrounding countryside. His art helped him stay balanced emotionally. He once went into a state of such confusion that he started eating some of his oil paints. Van Gogh would go from being very depressed to being super excited. Van Gogh went out to paint in the fields on July 27, 1890 (Bernard 148). He realized that his mental condition would not improve, so he decided to commit suicide. On July 27, 1890 he shot himself in the chest in the wheat field and ended up dying two days later (“Vincent van Gogh”). When Van Gogh killed himself, his name was unknown.

Van Gogh was a quiet youth that enjoyed spending his free time in the countryside to observe nature. He attempted to be a minister, missionary, an art dealer, and a teacher but none of them really suited him. His first job was working with his uncle who was an art dealer. His uncle worked at The Hague.

Van Gogh failed his theology exams trying to become a minister in 1876. In 1878, he became a preacher, though he was not ordained, in a poor coal mining district. In late 1885, he went to live with his brother Theo who was an art dealer. He became close to his brother after his father’s death and lived with him from March 1886 to February 1888 (Bernard 40). Van Gogh went to Paris in 1886. In Paris he went to Brussels Academy to study drawing but then began to work using nature when he moved to the Netherlands in 1881. He decided that bringing comfort to humanity through art would be his mission. He decided to become an artist at age twenty-seven. His career in art was very short, lasting approximately from 1880 to 1890.

Watercolors and drawings were what he only did during the first four years of his painting career. In just over two months, Van Gogh started creating a painting once a day. He was self-taught by studying drawings and copying prints. He studied art and knew about the theories that the Dutch masters of the seventeenth century had. He felt that mastering black and white before working with colors was necessary. In his early painting career his work was done in all dark colors. His decision to paint rural life was influenced by his admiration for Barbizon artists, people who painted landscape in realistic terms. In February 1888, he started working with lighter colors and painted fourteen orchard paintings in less than a month (“Vincent van Gogh”). He was influenced to use brighter colors when he moved to southern France in 1888.

A strong theme in many of Van Gogh’s paintings was showing how good God’s word is. He started collecting Japanese prints which influenced his works. He experimented with modern art styles, mainly impressionism. His style of painting was unique for he worked with intensity and great speed, so that he could create the mood of the scene while he felt it. He used a technique in his work that few other artists used; he used both organic and geometric shapes. Van Gogh received little recognition in his lifetime. He is usually considered one of the greatest post-impressionists. One of his most expensive paintings today has been sold for $82.5 million (Bernard 23).

Van Gogh painted around 1,500 drawings in his lifetime yet only sold one. His legacy was especially important in Germany. His work started to attract attention by the time of his death. By World War I, Van Gogh was already considered an important figure in the history of modern art. Van Gogh died at age thirty-seven. His art rose in popularity after his death in the late 20th century. He is perhaps the most recognized painter of all time. He is usually portrayed as an image of a struggling genius that worked unappreciated in isolation.

Many people credit him to being the creator of expressionism. He is said to be one of the most doomed artists who hit rock bottom and came right back up. His work went past just being paintings but showed the relationship between art and life. Artists realized that bringing life and soul to art was what Van Gogh did.

Van Gogh’s life opened the minds of those that like art to understand all forms of art as an expressed soul and to appreciate not only the result, but also the struggle behind it. Van Gogh was able to leave once he died many types of art that everyone can enjoy. Although he was practically a self taught artist he did well with how he taught himself. He was able to believe in himself and grew in his art skills. Vincent Van Gogh was an outstanding artist and his work will be remembered for a long time to come.