Vincent van Gogh: The Greatest Artist Who Ever Lived
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Vincent van Gogh: The Greatest Artist Who Ever Lived

The Dutch artist who has touched many generations after his death.

Vincent van Gogh: The Greatest Artist Who Ever Lived

There have been many great artists throughout history. Many have lived eclectic lives and dealt with great struggles during their art careers. There is one who is arguably one of the most tortured souls in the art world. He had a tough life from the day he was born until the day he died. Most artists can convey their sadness and pain through dark colors and upsetting themes in their pieces. This Dutch painter took his melancholy and turned it into vibrant masterpieces that gained him great fame after his death. He painted through extreme highs and extreme lows of his mental state, heartbreak, and through incredible amounts of self-doubt. He dominated the post-impressionism era and created new ideas of style. This man is Vincent van Gogh, the greatest artist to ever live.

“Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.”
― Vincent van Gogh

From the time he was born, Vincent van Gogh was placed into an environment of disappointment and sadness. Exactly a year before his birth, van Gogh’s mother gave birth to another Vincent, but the baby was stillborn. Van Gogh's mother never fully recovered from the loss of that first child and treated him poorly for it. Essentially, van Gogh started life by being hated by his mother and never fully received proper nurturing. His father being a pastor, van Gogh was brought up in a strict religious atmosphere and struggled with his identity.

“I am seeking, I am striving; I am in it with all my heart.”
― Vincent van Gogh

Van Gogh believed that his true calling was preaching the gospel. It took him many years to realize his true passion was art. He was poor for all of his life and relied financially on his younger brother, Theo van Gogh, who was an art dealer. Theo and van Gogh had a strong brotherly love and Theo was the one who suggested he become an artist. We know so much about van Gogh's life because of the letters between him and Theo over the course of their adult lives. When van Gogh moved to Brussels in 1880, he threw himself into the life of an artist. He drew and painted every day and taught himself by reading books and copying famous artworks. When he would sketch people, he would get to know them so that the characterization would be accurate in his drawings. Even though his beginning works were clumsy and dark, and it was obvious that he could convey strong emotions through his work.

“I want to touch people with my art. I want them to say 'He feels deeply, he feels tenderly.'"
― Vincent van Gogh

He had a catastrophic love life and never managed to marry, even though settling down and having children is one of the things he wanted most in life. Every time a woman rejected him, he would spiral down into a depressive state. His art is the only thing that kept him emotionally stable. He began work on his painting “Potato Eaters," and tried to copy the somber colors of the famous impressionists of the time. This painting is so dark because he wanted to make the poverty experienced visible. Van Gogh wanted to portray an innate goodness in the working lower class. He found he could not copy it the way that Pissarro, Monet and Gauguin would and started his own style of bold strokes. In 1886, van Gogh moved to Paris to live with his brother, Theo. Theo found it to be very difficult to live with his brother, whom he still loved dearly. He said that there were two people in Vincent, one greatly talented with art and another that is selfish and unloving. Van Gogh then moved to Arles in 1888 to start an artist’s colony.

“Art is to console those who are broken by life.”
― Vincent van Gogh

The warmth of the sun in Arles inspired van Gogh to paint for hours, resulting in him collapsing and sleeping for days. Eventually, Paul Gauguin caved to van Gogh's pleas for him to join him at his artist colony. The famous “Sunflowers” paintings were a gift from van Gogh to Gauguin to decorate his room with. During this time, van Gogh lived off of bread, coffee and absinthe. Before long, it became apparent that he was not only physically ill, but his psychological state was rapidly declining. It is believed that he would eat his yellow paint because he believed it to be a happy color, and he desperately sought happiness. Gauguin and van Gogh would have all night arguments about art and one night Gauguin walked out. Vincent followed him, and it is reported he was holding a razor. In his delirious mental state, Vincent became confused and ended up cutting off a part of his ear during an altercation with Gauguin. Gauguin left Arles two days later, and Vincent alternated between fits of madness, epilepsy and lucidity. He was soon admitted to an asylum in Saint-Remy.

“I long so much to make beautiful things. But beautiful things require effort — and disappointment and perseverance.”

— Vincent van Gogh

During his time in the asylum, he found it hard to paint and draw without suffering from some sort of attack. He still managed to paint “Starry Night” which is now one of the most famous paintings in history. The swirling lines and brilliant colors are said to represent his struggle with sanity between his highs and lows. Some of van Gogh's most popular paintings were created at the asylum.

“I don't know anything with certainty, but seeing the stars makes me dream.”
―Vincent van Gogh

Van Gogh left the asylum in 1890; he rented a room and was under the care of Dr. Gachet in Auvers-sur-Oise. They became close friends, and van Gogh painted him a few times. He threw himself into his art with such fervor that he was making a painting a day. Theo spoke to van Gogh about being more financially independent, and van Gogh thought he didn’t want to sell his art anymore. On July 27, 1890, van Gogh went out to paint as always and received a gunshot wound that would kill him two days later. There are many theories as to how he died, and the main one being he committed suicide. With recent studies, that is coming into question based on the angle of the gunshot and a suspicious boy who was known to bully van Gogh.

“The sadness will last forever.”
― Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh’s life was torturous and beautiful in its own way. Struggling to find who he is and fighting through mental illness was no easy task. He did not receive the love that he deserved in his lifetime. He is now one of the most well-known artists in all of history. This man dedicated his life to art and wanted to simply love and show the world how he felt. Van Gogh had a unique art style that nobody else had done before and opened up the era of expressionism. He has inspired generations of artists and writers who can relate to his extreme sadness and desire to make it into something beautiful. His mind is one that will be remembered for being completely insane, but beautiful.

“If I am worth anything later, I am worth something now. For wheat is wheat, even if people think it is a grass in the beginning.”
― Vincent van Gogh

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