Vincent Willem van Gogh (born 30 March 1853 in the Netherlands – died 29 July 1890 in France) was a drafter and painter. His works full of naturalism were inspired by expressionism and Neo-Impressionism, Impressionism and early Fauvism. He was one of the world’s most famous painters in the early twenty-first century.
Van Gogh grew up in a family of the old bourgeoisie. He first tried to make a career as an art dealer in the Goupil & Cie. However, refusing to see art as a commodity, he was dismissed.
Then Van Gogh decided to become a pastor, but he failed a theology exam. In the late 1870s, he turned to painting. During these years, he left the Netherlands to Belgium, and then settled in France. Self-taught, Van Gogh still took painting classes. Fascinated, he continued to expand his artistic culture by analyzing the work of painters of the time, visiting the museums and art galleries, and exchanging the ideas with his painter friends. In addition, he studied Japanese prints, English engravings, etc. His paintings reflect his research and the extent of his artistic skills. However, his life was strewn with the periods of crises revealing his mental instability. One of them was the cause of his suicide at the age of 37 years.
The extensive Van Gogh correspondence helps better understand the artist. It consists of more than eight hundred letters written to his family and friends, including six hundred and fifty two sent to his brother “Theo,” with who he maintained both personal and professional relationship.
Van Gogh’s legacy is composed of more than two thousand paintings and drawings dating mainly from the years between 1880 and 1890. It echoes the European art scene in the late nineteenth century. It was influenced by his artist friends, including Paul Gauguin, Emile Bernard, and Anthon van Rappard. He often exchanged views with his brother Theo, a known art dealer. He admired Paul Cezanne, Frans Hals, Jean-François Millet, Rembrandt, Eugène Delacroix, and Anton Mauve and was inspired by Edgar Degas, Paul Signac, Hiroshige, Adolphe Joseph Thomas Monticelli, and Claude Monet.
Little known in the 1890s, Van Gogh was noticed by a small number of writers and painters in France, Netherlands, Belgium, and Denmark. However, in the 1930s, his work attracted one hundred and twenty thousand people at an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
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