Birth name Vincent Willem van Gogh
Born 30 March 1853, Groot-Zundert, Holland
Died 29 July 1890, Auvers-sur-Oise, France
Van Gogh, like Gauguin, developed late. He was the son of a Protestant minister, and found it hard at first to decide on a career. From the age of about twenty, he worked as an assistant to the picture-dealer Goupil, first at The Hague, then in Brussels, London and finally Paris. He then felt the call to a religious life and for the next two years worked as an evangelist and free-lance missionary among poor miners and peasants. Towards the end of 1878 he began to draw and paint; he had a great admiration for Millet and copied a number of his works.
During this period, up to 1881 he lived in Belgium; then from 1881 to 1885 he was back in Holland again, staying at Etten, Te Hague, Drenthe and for a rather longer period (December 1883-november 1885) at Nuenen. Finally he went to Antwerp (November 1885-february 1886). His works of that period represent in realistic manner simple subjects such as peasants, homely objects, heavy shoes or clogs, looms and workmen tools. Van Gogh spent the next two years, from February 1886 to February 1888, in Paris where he associated constantly with Impressionists. He was also attracted to Neo-Impressionism and its pointilliste technique, as well as Symbolism and the brilliant colouring used by Gauguin and his friends. Another thing he found fascinating was the prevailing fashion for Japanese art. He copied a number of prints. However he left Paris and went to Arles in Provance. Van Gogh’s Arles period lasts from February 1888 to May 1889, and his powerful creative genius found ample inspiration in that wonderful place. His painting was now violent and forceful, marked by bold chromatic colouring, and he was prolific, producing 190 canvases on a little over a year. Gauguin agreed to join him in Arles, and they start living together, sharing a room. They work together also but Gauguin was not happy about Arles, which caused a few quarrels about art. Van Gogh felt a fear that Gauguin is going to abandon him so tension between them was reaching a crisis pint. On 23 December 1888 Van Gogh attempted to injure (attack) Gauguin with a razor blade. After the accident Gauguin left Arles and never saw Van Gogh again. It was becoming obvious that Van Gogh’s mental health was not steady and he needed medical help. The next period (may 1889-may1890) he spends in the hospital at Saint-Paul-de-Mausole under the care of doctors and nurses. During his stay, the clinic and its garden became the main subjects of his paintings. But he suffered from serious mental problems and periods of conscious and his ability to paint changed into periods of madness , causing some suicide attempts. However Van Gogh left clinic in may 1890 and moved to Auvers-sur-Oise near Paris, where he would be closer to his brother Theo. He committed suicide by shooting himself. Van Gogh died on 27th of July 1890, aged 37. He spoke on his own continual “search for the infinite”. His art made a deep, lasting impression and succeeded generations of painters as well as on his own contemporaries. He went far beyond the Impressionism in experimenting and investigating the possibilities of line colour, opening the way for Fauvism and Expressionism and, indeed, for much of contemporary art.