Vincent van Gogh

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Vincent van Gogh

Luke Gunter, Writer

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What do you think you’d see if you looked out of your window late at night? Perhaps you would see the stars glow in the sky as though they’re melting. Maybe a village nestled below with a cathedral towering up from the center. Beyond that village, you might see hills gently rolling off to meet the horizon.

 This was Vincent van Gogh’s view from the Saint-Rémy-de-Provence Asylum in May of 1889, where he was admitted after an incident where he consciously cut off his ear in a fit of rage. He painted the scene a month later in June, and it was titled The Starry Night. Van Gogh had painted many other beautiful paintings in the asylum, such as Irises and Poppies and Butterflies. 

This is mostly how the later years of his life followed. Originally planning to become a minister, van Gogh had been denied to do so after refusing to take Latin exams. This happened again, and Van Gogh presently gave up on his ambition. 

Shortly, in the Fall of 1880, he ultimately decided to become an artist situated in Brussels, Belgium. With no prior training, he taught himself from books and relied on funds from his family to keep him supported financially. Vincent’s brother, Theo, even sold some of his brother’s paintings to any individual who would buy them. 

However, van Gogh’s style wasn’t particularly favored during his time. Van Gogh painted using a variety: Pointillism, Japonisim, and Realism. Whereas, the fashion of paintings people were more inclined to buy were that of the Impressionism variety. Because of this, his art was seldomly well-received. Critics called him a “madman” and “insane,” among other nasty criticisms that the public addressed. This had thrown van Gogh into a depression that made him discouraged about his painting skills. Although van Gogh was being supported by his family, he still lived below the poverty line, when he resorted  to burn his paintings in the winter to keep warm.

Theo eventually became worried about his brother’s mental health, and sent Paul Gauguin to watch over Vincent. Paul and van Gogh argued constantly, and on the 23rd of December, their arguing led to van Gogh cutting off his ear. That leads us to July of 1890 where on the 27th morning after he had interpreted his brother’s words, van Gogh shot himself in the chest. Van Gogh survived for two more days which he spent talking to Theo until his demise at the age of 37. 

Today, van Gogh is regarded as one of the greatest artists in history. Most famously recognized for his paintings like The Starry Night, and his Still Life With Bible. His story, however, is just as compelling. A failed minister who discovered solace and talent in painting was simply born in the wrong time. A man who had poor mental health reflected his sadness in the melancholy of his paintings. 

Vincent van Gogh’s story is agonizingly real and bare. It conveys that even the most broken of us could be the most talented. 

As van Gogh said, “Enjoy yourself too much rather than too little.”