Personally, I have a mild obsession with Vincent van Gogh and I’m surprised it took me this long to bring it up, but that will be the topic of this week!
Vincent van Gogh always intrigued me as an artist, because clearly he has a unique and distinct style that separates him from any other artist, even to this day. Beyond artistically, I wanted to learn more about the man that created something so unique he wouldn’t have had to sign his works to identify his work.
I began researching and the more I learned, the more interested I became.
The poor guy was doomed for mental illness from the start; he was born exactly one year after his older brother’s death (stillborn) and given the same name as said older brother. This means that from birth, Vincent was plagued with the expectation of serving as a replacement for the brother he could have had; that would emotionally and mentally disturb anyone.
He had a rocky financial and professional history as he couldn’t find any jobs where he quite fit in or he was too emotional to maintain composure at the positions he enjoyed. Many speculate that he most likely suffered from manic depression.
His brother Theo was his most stable factor, Theo was not only his brother but his confidant, benefactor, and peer. When all else failed, Vincent could count on Theo’s support- even to the very end.
After his suicide, Vincent’s mother began spitefully destroying many of his works. It was Theo’s wife, Johanna, who saved as many of his works as she could have. She saved his works and held onto them for decades while trying to create exhibits for them, she even worked on translating many of his writings and letters, long after Theo’s death.
If it wasn’t for Johanna’s tireless efforts, we wouldn’t have the fabulous Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam or any of his fascinating letters.
I cannot stress enough how much I encourage anyone who studies art to go buy a book of his letters. I find myself reading them in my down time, and it’s absolutely mind blowing to be able to be in his head and see his sketches and his opinions on his own work. Some editions can run pretty pricey, but I found my edition at a local bookstore for roughly $20.
None of the images used in this post belong to me, they were all derived from the Van Gogh Museum’s website.