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Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890)

Lifespan: 1853 - 1890

Related: suicide - tortured artists - modern art - post-impressionism

Conventional wisdom holds that genius is underappreciated in its own time; one might compare Vincent Van Gogh, who struggled for regognition during his life but is now a household word, with his contemporary Jean-Léon Gérôme, whose paintings and reproductions enjoyed immense popularity, but has since faded into relative obscurity. [Mar 2006]

Starry Night over the Rhone (1888) - Van Gogh
Oil on canvas; 72,5 x 92 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Skull with a Cigarette (1886) - Vincent van Gogh


Vincent Willem van Gogh (March 30, 1853 – July 29, 1890) was a Dutch painter, generally considered one of the greatest painters in European art history. He produced all of his work (some 900 paintings and 1100 drawings) during a period of only 10 years before he succumbed to mental illness (possibly bipolar disorder) and committed suicide. He had little success during his lifetime, but his posthumous fame grew rapidly, especially following a showing of 71 of van Gogh's paintings in Paris on March 17, 1901 (11 years after his death).

(In Dutch, the name Gogh is pronounced [x?x]; pronunciations used in English include [g?f], [g?x], and [go?].)

Van Gogh's influence on expressionism, fauvism and early abstraction was enormous, and can be seen in many other aspects of 20th-century art. The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is dedicated to Van Gogh's work and that of his contemporaries. The Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo (also in the Netherlands), has a considerable collection of Vincent van Gogh paintings as well.

Several paintings by Van Gogh rank among the most expensive paintings in the world. On March 30, 1987 Van Gogh's painting Irises was sold for a record US$53.9 million at Sotheby's, New York. On May 15, 1990 his Portrait of Doctor Gachet was sold for $82.5 million at Christie's, thus establishing a new price record (see also List of most expensive paintings). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vincent_van_Gogh [Apr 2005]

Tortured artist

The tortured artist is a stock character and stereotype, who is in constant ferment due to frustrations with art and other people. The tortured artist feels alienated and misunderstood due to what he/she perceives as the ignorance or neglect of others who do not understand them, and the things they feel are important.

They sometimes [often] smoke, are sexually frustrated [hyperactive], and appear overwhelmed by their own emotions and inner conflicts. The tortured artist is often mocked in popular culture for being attention seeking, narcissistic, or just adverse to happiness. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tortured_artist [Jul 2006]

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