21. Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh was a Dutch Post-Impressionist painter. His works are famous for their vivid colors and deep emotional impact. Yet he had suffered from deep anxiety and frequent bouts of mental illness, throughout his short life span of 37 years!

Van Gogh got very little appreciation for his works when he was alive. He became world famous only posthumously! Today he is considered as the one of the main contributors of Modern Art and one of the greatest painters of all time!

He started painting only in his late twenties! He had very little formal training and was in reality a self taught artist! His best paintings were produced in the last two years of his life. He had produced over 900 paintings and 1100 drawings and sketches!

His early works have only somber earth tones as opposed to the vivid colors used in his later works!

Van Gogh was born on 30 March in 1853, in Southern Netherlands. As a child he was very serious, silent and thoughtful. He suffered from recurring episodes of mental illness throughout his life but the episodes became more and more pronounced during the last few years of his life!

He was either unwilling to paint or unable to paint! This would make him greatly depressed. On 27 July 1890, he walked into a field and shot himself in the chest. He survived the bullet only to die two days later!

His works seem to reflect the state of his mind, at the time of painting them. Some are somber and sober. Others show optimism, hope and a desire to become normal. Some others are downright bleak, showing utter despair and hopelessness!

By mid 20th Century Van Gogh had been posthumously recognized as one of the greatest painters of the world!

Van Gogh has created 37 self portraits between 1886 and 1889! His self portrait without beard is one of the costliest paintings in the world. It was sold for an astronomical sum of 71.5 million $ in New York in 1998!

Whether his madness actually helped him to draw pictures with greater emotional impact or whether he would have been a greater artist minus his mental problems, is a subject fit for debate!

Visalakshi Ramani


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