Vincent Van Gogh Paintings
Vincent Van Gogh was a highly influential post-impressionist painter whose work has had vast impact, though he painted for less than a decade of his short life. Though plagued by mental illness and frequent bouts of extreme anxiety, Van Gogh's paintings are rich with vibrant colors and emotional expressiveness. Van Gogh was largely unknown and unappreciated as a painter during his lifetime, and, in fact, did not take up painting until his late twenties. Van Gogh died in obscurity from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the age of 37. During the very brief time that Van Gogh immersed himself in his art he created more than 900 paintings and 1,100 drawings and sketches. Most of his best known and most recognizable works were produced during the last two years of his life. Among his numerous subjects were many portraits, self portraits, landscapes and scenes prominently featuring sunflowers. Though Van Gogh is often thought to be French, due to the large portion of his life that he spent living in the southern part of that country, he was, in fact a Dutch national.
Born in a small village in the southern Netherlands in the spring of 1853, Van Gogh grew to become a very serious child, though very bright. In a letter to his brother Van Gogh later noted, “my youth was gloomy and cold and sterile.” Van Gogh was first trained in art in his primary school through a method emphasizing a systematic approach to a given subject. Upon completing school, Van Gogh went to work as an art dealer, a traditional family trade. He was successful for the first few years, but grew to resent the way in which art was treated as a mere commodity and his employment was soon terminated. During this time he became more and more fervent concerning religion and expressed aspirations to become a pastor.
After a series of personal misfortunes, Van Gogh returned to the Netherlands to live with his parents. It was there, driven by loneliness, that he began to paint. These first paintings were often character studies and portraits of peasants. From early on in his career Van Gogh exhibited a technical mastery in his field and his paintings are characterized by smooth, detail oriented brushwork and careful shading of colors. Early in his career he used very somber earth tones, yet as he progressed he became known for more vibrant color palettes.
In his work, both early and late, Van Gogh was very receptive to all sorts of styles of painting and at turns incorporated pointillism, complementary colors, expressionism and more into his work. He is credited at having taken the tenets of impressionism and post-impressionism and ran with them, reinventing their possibilities in his work. Each painting is noted for its luminescence, their particular qualities in this regard hard to attribute to any particular technical element. He often incorporated nontraditional shapes and lines to achieve this haunting effect. Skillful adaptations of many of Van Gogh's pioneering techniques can be found in many of the paintings in our Abstract Canvas gallery. Though Van Gogh died without great recognition in the art world, in this day he is recognized as one of the greatest artists ever to have lived.