Vincent Van Gogh, a loner and to a large extent, an autodidact, was one of the most important predecessors of modern painting. He imbibed Impressionism, transformed it in his own way, and became a major antecedent of the Expressionists.
His wide ranging, powerful work, but also unhappy life, plagued by misfortune, intense inner doubts and tremendous creative power, (not to mention obsession with work), have repeatedly made him the focus of attention for later generations.
Vincent van Gogh was born in Groot-Zundert, Holland, on March 30, 1853. His mother's name was Anna Cornelia Carbentus and his father was a Protestant minister named Theodorus van Gogh. He had three sisters Elisabeth, Anna, and Wil; and two brothers Theo and Cor.
Because he was brought up in a religious family, he was highly emotional and lacked self-confidence. Between 1870 - 1880 had worked unsuccessfully as a clerk in a bookstore, an art salesman in The Hague (through his uncle), and an independent missionary in Borinage.
Actually, he started to work at the age of 16 at The Hague Gallery run by Goupil et Cie, who in 1873 transferred Vincent to London, and then again to Paris by 1875. After that, their parents decided to pay for his education, but he decided to go to Boringe as a missionary.
In the same period, he had two unhappy romances. He decided to remain in Belgium to study art and that very year he painted the beautiful 'The Potatoes Eaters'(1885), which was the expression of his early Dutch period. Around the same time, he discovered Rubens at Antwerp.
In 1886, he moved to Paris and started to live with his devoted brother Theo. There, he also met Gauguin, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Seurat, and Pissarro. He changed his dark palette and started to paint in the short brushstrokes of the Impressionists (Pere Tanguy, 1887).
In 1888, he decided to move to Arles (south of France), where Gauguin joined him, but he had a bad influence over him. They were hoping to open an artist's colony over there, but the health of Vincent was very unstable. His state of mind was very weak, and during a breakdown he mutilated his ear.
However, the Mediterranean atmosphere influenced him to paint the 'Sunflowers' in the same period. Because he was very ill, he became a patient of Saint-Remy sanatorium in 1890, where he continued to paint and make copies of paintings he liked.
Because of his mental state, his palette softened but his brushwork was increasingly agitated (Ravine). After this unfortunate experience, in May 1890, he moved to Auvers-sur-Oise, were he started a hectic program of painting. However, once more, luck did not seem to be on his side, but all this time, his brother Theo was constantly right beside him.
To thank him for all his help, Vincent planned a surprise by organizing a private show in Theo's apartment with all his latest paintings. He died the same year (July 29, 1890). During his lifetime, he sold only one painting from his 2,000 works, which included 900 paintings and 1,100 drawings and sketches.
He once said of his graphic works, "Well, some pictures make a big splash in their enormous frames, and later one is astonished because they leave such an empty, unsatisfied feeling...
In contrast to this, some simple wood engraving or lithograph or etching is sometimes overlooked, but one comes back to it and becomes more and more attached to it, and feels something grand in it." (Vincent van Gogh, Letter 250, 2 or 3 December 1882.)
Van Gogh's inimitable art was defined by its powerful, dramatic, and emotional style. Maybe he tried to explain the struggle between man and human nature. His paintings and drawings include some of the world's most famous and expensive pieces, and they are showcased all over the world.
The largest permanent collection of his paintings is at the Van Gogh Museum, in Amsterdam, Holland. These paintings are by categories―landscapes, self-portraits, portraits, peasant life, drawings, and others. It also contains the works of other artists from the 19th century.
Gogh once said, "We spend our whole lives in unconscious exercise of the art of expressing our thoughts with the help of words."