Friday, March 30, 2018
Van Gogh. Born on this day in 1863
Van Gogh, born on this day in 1853 had a terrible start as an artist. In fact, Robert Hughes points out that anybody looking at this early work would not have recognized any talent. His early paintings are drab and somber, even depressing. Yet, after he moved to Paris, his unpromising beginnings matured into a brilliant maturity. His most beloved paintings were made after he moved to Arles in 1888. Although he was tormented by bouts of insanity and was very poor, still he kept on painting. In one of his letters to his brother Theo, he wrote, "I am not strictly speaking mad, for my mind is absolutely normal in the intervals..but during the attacks it is terrible - and then I lose consciousness of everything.But that spurs me onto work and to seriousness, as a miner who is alway in danger makes haste in what he does."
The outlines of his life are well known - born into a well off Dutch family, he tried many professions, including that of art dealer and clergyman, before deciding to become a painter. His suicide came after years of rejection, mental illness and poverty so it is ironic that he never lived to see his fame and the huge prices that his work commands. By the time of his death in 1890, his work was beginning to attract critical attention and by the beginning of WW I, the Fauves and the German Expressionists considered him a seminal figure in modern art.