Most of us have seen an image of Vincent Van Gogh’s work, perhaps even without realizing who the artist behind the work is.
Vincent Van Gogh was a famous artist who lived in the 19th century. He created the painting ‘A Starry Night’, which was listed as the 4th best painting of all time by Time Out.
Read more about Vincent Van Gogh’s life, work, and legacy below.
Van Gogh’s Life
Vincent Van Gogh was born in 1853 in Holland and was the son of a pastor.
His religious upbringing followed him into adulthood when he became a preacher. He also worked in a bookstore for a period of his life and spent some time as an art salesman.
He studied art in Belgium and later moved to Paris, where his brother worked as the manager of an art gallery. In the city of Paris, he met other successful artists, including Monet, and was influenced by their technique.
His previous art had used dark colors, but in Paris he began experimenting with a brighter palette. Eventually, he found his own unique artistic style.
Van Gogh is well known for his mutilated ear, which he is believed to have cut himself. The trigger for this incident is debated – some believe it happened following an argument with fellow artist Gaugin, while others say that he was upset by the news of his brother’s engagement.
The artist struggled with his mental health and is believed to have experienced hallucinations. He was admitted to Saint-Rémy, an asylum, to help his condition.
Inside Saint-Rémy, he continued to feel passionate about art and was productive in his craft. He is thought to have created 150 paintings during a single year in the asylum, however, his well being remained unsteady.
Van Gogh left the institution in 1890, however, he took his own life only a few months later. He died in Auvers-Sur-Oise, France, and was also buried in the area.
Van Gogh created over 900 paintings during his lifetime.
In a letter to his brother, he wrote “With painting, my real career begins.”
Perhaps his best-known work is ‘The Starry Night’, which he created during his time in Saint-Rémy. The swirling brush strokes and effective use of color depicts a skyline littered with stars, yet retains an eerie undertone with the dark-colored trees and hillside.
Another popular work is ‘Sunflowers’, a series of paintings that portray the yellow flowers in a similarly toned vase. The painting is credited for its “simplistic beauty.”
Van Gogh created several self-portraits, which he is said to have viewed as practice for other artistic projects. The portraits hint towards his ill health, with one particularly famous painting showing the artist with a bandaged ear.
Photographs of Van Gogh are rare, and so his self-portraits are key to forming an image of the artist. Only one confirmed photograph remains, which shows him as a youth.
Sadly, much of Van Gogh’s success came after his death. During his lifetime, he remained relatively unknown and spent much of his money on purchasing art supplies.
His unconventional style is thought to be influential in the works of many subsequent artists, including those in the fauvism and abstract expressionist genres.
Now, his work is displayed in galleries and museums across the world. The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, houses over 200 of his paintings, while ‘The Starry Night’ is held in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Though Van Gogh was never financially rewarded for his work, the highly celebrated nature of his art now draws huge value.
In 1990, Van Gogh’s painting ‘Portrait of Dr. Gachet’, a doctor who supported him during his mental health issues, was sold at auction. The buyer paid a staggering $82.5 million, the highest ever price for a painting at the time.