Vincent van Gogh’s impact on the art world is undeniable. Known today for his signature brushwork and vivid use of colour, most of Van Gogh’s works of art only became appreciated after his early demise. His final words, “The sadness will last forever,” provide a window into his mental state, which both enhances and contrasts his oeuvre while bringing greater insight into the man behind the paintings.
Now recognized as one history’s most talented artists, art enthusiasts all over the world have been able to enjoy a larger than life portrayal of Van Gogh’s work via the Van Gogh Alive Exhibition that is set to open in Malaysia on Saturday, 17th December.
To learn more about the influential artist, here’s a quick look into the life and work of Vincent van Gogh. With these tidbits, you’ll have deeper context about the artist and his work, which will shed light on the paintings you’ll be immersed in when you visit the exhibition with your friends, family or that someone special!
A Man Of Many Interests
Born on the 30th of March in 1853, Vincent van Gogh was only an artist for the last decade of his life. Initially, Van Gogh worked at his uncle’s art dealing company and later for the Goupil & Cie Gallery In London.
At one point, he considered following his father’s footsteps and becoming a minister, and even worked briefly as a school teacher. With neither success nor fulfilment, he decided to take up painting at 27 with almost no training, announcing that he was an artist to his brother in 1880.
A Man Who Fought Many Demons
Van Gogh fought many personal battles throughout his life. Evidence suggests that he faced manic depression, epilepsy, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. And despite coming from a middle class family, he spent most of his life in poverty, surviving off cheap food. His diet consisted mostly of bread and coffee, though he was known to drink alcohol excessively and was never seen without a pipe in his hand.
A Man Of Various Art Styles
Despite only being an artist in the last decade of his life, Van Gogh is said to have created around 2,100 works including approximately 900 paintings. This is especially impressive considering that most of his artwork was created over the last two years of his life.
He painted through the changes he found himself in, allowing his style to evolve. When he first started out, he mostly painted in dull colours and used farmers and peasants as subjects, as he couldn’t afford to pay models.
Later on, he became a fan of the Japanese aesthetic and moved to the south of France, to see “nature under a brighter sky” so that he could better understand the way the Japanese “feel and draw.” This is when he painted“The Bedroom.”
Van Gogh was also known to be a firm supporter of Post-Impressionist art, the French movement that was a departure from Impressionism and its concern for natural depiction of light and colour.
A Man In An Asylum
Having fought many demons during his lifetime, Van Gogh checked himself into an asylum after a fight with a friend that saw him cutting off the lobe of his own ear. This was where he created his most famous masterpiece, “Starry Night.”
It is said that while in hospital, he would spend days staring out his barred window at the scenery below and painting. “Starry Night” is something of a culmination of this vista, combining his view on different days and even at different times of the day. As he watched both the light and weather change, he combined his view of sunrise, moonrise, sunny days, overcast days, rainy days and even windy days to create the masterpiece so many people know and love today.
A Man Who Only Found Fame After Life
Sadly, Vincent van Gogh only sold one painting throughout his entire life. He died in 1890 from a bullet wound and it was only when his brother died, six months after him, that his brother’s wife, Johanna van Gogh-Bonger dedicated her life to collecting his works and promoting it. She published a collection of his letters in 1914 and it was thanks to her diligence and hard work that Van Gogh’s work finally began to receive recognition, leading to the prominence it has today.
Ironically, despite the financial hardship and obscurity he faced in life, Vincent van Gogh created one of the most expensive paintings in history – his “Portrait of Dr. Gachet” sold for US$82.5 million in 1990.
Now that you’ve gotten a brief look into the man behind the art, don’t forget to check out the Van Gogh Alive Exhibition happening from 17 December 2022 till 16th March 2023 at Pavilion Bukit Jalil, Level 2, Orange Zone. For more information on ticketing, please visit www.vangogh.com.my