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The Life of Vincent Van Gogh and His Most Famous Artworks

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Vincent Willem van Gogh was born on March 30, 1853. He was born in Zundert, Netherlands and was the oldest of six siblings, he had two brothers and three sisters. His mother was Anna Carbentus, an amateur artist who drew flowers and plants. His father, Theodorus, was a pastor at the Protestant Dutch Reformed Church. He was a Dutch painter who focused mainly on Post-impressionism and is very influential in the art world. For two years, he attended a boarding school in Zevenbergen. Then afterward, Van Gogh went to school in Tilburg at King Willem II secondary school for two years. When he was 15, he stopped going to school because he felt like the teachers were stifling him and didn’t like how they taught.

A year later, his uncle got him a job working at The Hague as a trainee for an art dealership. After he lost his job as a trainee, he became a teacher. He soon left that job and moved back to the Netherlands, where he worked at a bookstore. In 1878, he traveled to Belgium, where he tried his hand as a preacher, but the people in charge denied him. Afterward, Van Gogh decided to try his hand as being an artist. In 1881, he moved back to the Netherlands, where he practiced drawing and painting, and his younger brother, Theo, who was an art dealer, helped him with art shows.

When he lived in the Hague, he was influenced by his brother-in-law Anton Mauve. Anton is known as one of the leaders of the Hague School and a Dutch realist painter. Mauve taught Van Gogh how to paint using watercolors and oils. During his life, he was supported financially by his younger brother, who not only gave him money, but helped him with his artwork. Then in 1886, he moved in with Theo, who lived in Paris at the time and met Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Emile Bernard. Toulouse-Lautrec was a Post-Impressionist and a French painter. Bernard was a French painter and writer and a Post-Impressionist artist. In 1887, Van Gogh became heavily influenced by Japanese woodblock prints and regularly painted with Paul Signac, who was a French Neo-Impressionist painter. He organized an exhibit for artists, where he met Camille Pissarro, Gauguin, and many others. After the exhibition, Van Gogh and the people there became friends and colleagues. They inspired him to try painting with brighter colors and new painting techniques. In 1888, Paul Gauguin and Van Gogh worked and lived together for two months before they fought outside a brothel. In that fight, Van Gogh started to hallucinate, took a knife, and mutilated his ear, which he gave to a person at the brothel.

Then Van Gogh admitted himself to a mental hospital, otherwise known as Saint Paul de Mausole, in May of 1889. During the year he was there, Van Gogh painted more than 100 paintings, including “The Starry Night.’ Van Gogh died on July 29, 1890, in Auvers-Sur-Oise, France, at the age of thirty-seven from a gunshot. His brother, Theo, found him shot in a field and took him back to his house, where he died of his wound two days later, with his brother at his side. Van Gogh was inspired by Post-impressionism and Impressionism and had mental health issues, which inspired him to create beautiful works of art that illustrate the emotional struggles he went through. The colors he used and the brushstrokes he did, played a role in his artwork by showing how he was feeling.

He influenced Fauvism, Expressionism, and Abstraction with his use of color and emotion in his art. He used a technique where he laid paint thickly on the canvas, so you are able to see the brush strokes, this is called impasto. With this technique, his artwork displayed dramatic brushstrokes that produced a sense of movement and illustrated his emotions. Van Gogh lived through periods of art such as Pointillism, Post-impressionism, and Impressionism. Pointillism started in 1886 to 1905 and is where artists used small dots to create images. Post-impressionism is a french art movement and began in 1886 as a response to oppose Impressionism. Van Gogh was one of the prominent leaders of this movement, including other influential leaders such as Gauguin, Seurat, and Cézanne. Post-impressionism emphasizes representative content and structure. Impressionism started in Paris in the 19-century and shows vibrant colors and sharp brushstrokes, showing different angles and light, with a focus on urban life. Some of the most prominent people of Impressionism are Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Alfred Sisley. During his life, Van Gogh had many lovers throughout his life, but his family didn’t approve, so he never was married or had any children.

Flower Beds in Holland, or Bulb Fields, is an oil painting on wood that was made in early 1883, and was created during the period of Realism. The artwork is a landscape painting and displays seven rows of flowers, a house scattered in the background, and a man walking through one of the rows. The painting has a multitude of colors, in varying shades and tints, as well as being able to see some of the brushstrokes in the flowers. The flowers are painted in colors such as white, pink, blue, yellow, and red. The grass is a mixture of yellow-green and dark green, light green, and a light brown. The houses are a mixture of reds and browns, and the man is in a blue shirt and brown pants, wearing a black hat.

The Potato Eaters is an oil-based painting and was made in April of 1885. The subject of the artwork is five people, who are peasants, sitting around a table eating potatoes. The artwork depicts life in the countryside and some of the harsh conditions that come with it, with the use of colors, which include dark shades and tints. The painting contains dark shades and natural tones of greens, blacks, browns, and blues, as well as light tints for the skin. This artwork is regarded as Van Gogh’s first piece of great art. The painting contains multiple small details that add to the artwork and helps pull the painting together.

Wheatfield with Crows is an oil painting and was made in July 1980 and was one of Van Gogh’s last paintings. The subject of this painting is a wheatfield and he uses a virality of colors to his emotions. In the artwork, you can see his use of impasto, which gives the artwork a sense of movement. He uses different shades and tints of yellow and some brown for the wheat, as well as light blue, blue-green, light green, and dark green for the grass. For the road, he uses light and dark brown with a mixture of different shades and tints, as well as a very light tint of yellow and some blue. For the sky, Van Gogh uses shades and tints of light blue, dark blue, and a little bit of white paint. He uses darker tones to convey an emotion of loneliness, isolation, or sadness.

When you compare The Potato Eaters to the Wheatfield with Crows, it’s astonishing to see the progress and advances Van Gogh made. From the techniques he uses, to the way he placed the colors on the canvas, even the colors he uses and the subject matter is drastically different. The Potato Eaters uses dark colors and shades, making the artwork have a somber feel to it. While the Wheatfield with Crows uses various shades and tints of multiple colors, making the painting have a feeling of sadness or isolation, but also a sense of tranquility or serenity. In the Wheatfield with Crows, he uses the technique impasto to give the artwork a feeling of movement, but The Potato Eaters doesn’t feature that technique, and the work feels melancholy.

Vincent van Gogh is important to not just the art world, but everyone. The way his paintings command the colors, the way he weaves his emotions into his artwork, and the beautiful way he sees the world, it’s powerful and wonderful. It’s amazing how in some of his paintings, you can feel his sorrow and loneliness, his despair and hopelessness, and you feel like weeping because there are so many emotions tied to the piece. While other paintings of his can make you feel peaceful or content, and you can’t stop the smile from showing on your face. He showed people how he saw the world, he painted for himself, to cope with things in his life, to used his painting to express himself. With his artwork, Van Gogh saw simple objects or everyday scenes, and to him, they were something wonderful and different. When he painted, not only did he put his thoughts and emotions into it, he put his soul into every piece of artwork. Even though he didn’t sell a lot of his artwork, he never stopped painting, no matter what happened or what he went through. He took his problems, the obstacles he faced, as his mental illness, his feelings of loneliness and rejection, he took that pain and turned it into beautiful pieces of artwork. 

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