Artist Of The Month: Vincent Van Gogh
Vincent Van Gogh (1853 - 1890)
was a Dutch painter whose Post-Impressionist paintings laid the groundwork for
Expressionism, influenced the Fauves and greatly affected 20th
century art. He created more than 2,000 works, including 900 paintings, three of
which make up the world's ten most expensive pieces of
Gogh was born in 1853 in Groot-Zundert, a village in the southern Netherlands.
His father was a minister and three of his uncles were art dealers, two
vocations that were to pull Vincent in different directions at various times in
In letters, Vincent has described his youth as
"gloomy, cold and barren," and he left school at 15. With the help of his uncle,
he was offered a job with the art dealer Goupil & Cie, and in 1873 was sent
to London and from there to Paris. After complaining repeatedly about the
commoditisation of art, his job with the art dealership was terminated and Van
Gogh returned to England to work as a teacher and minister's assistant.
In 1879, after failing a course at a Protestant
missionary school near Brussels, Van Gogh began a mission in the poor mining
district of Borinage in Belgium. Choosing to live in the same poverty-stricken
conditions as the local population, he was dismissed for "undermining the
dignity of the priesthood" and returned home. His behaviour over the following
months led his father to enquire about having Van Gogh committed to an
Aged 27, Van Gogh eventually took up the
suggestion of his brother Theo, now a successful art dealer, to focus on
painting. In 1880, he moved to Brussels and studied at the Royal Academy of
Van Gogh's first major work, The Potato
Eaters, was painted in 1885 shortly after his father's death. Like many of
his early works, the painting used sombre colors, especially dark brown, a
preference which would make his paintings difficult to sell; buyers' tastes were
now influenced by the bright tones used by the
His palette however, began to change after he
moved to Antwerp in 1885. He studied color theory and began using carmine,
cobalt and emerald green. But it was while living in Paris from 1886 to 1888,
where he met Emile Bernard and Toulouse-Lautrec and came into close contact with
Impressionist art, that Van Gogh's art really began to develop. He experimented
with Pointillism and painted in the sunflower-rich region of Arles with the
artist Gauguin. By late 1888 his behavior was becoming difficult however, and
fearing that Gauguin was going to abandon him, he stalked the painter with a
razor before cutting off his earlobe and giving it to a local prostitute,
telling her to "keep this object carefully." The following year, after suffering
from hallucinations and believing that he was being poisoned, Van Gogh was
placed in the mental hospital of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole near
By now, Van Gogh's work was beginning to be
recognized. The critic Albert Aurier called him a "genius," and Monet declared
that his work was the best in a major avant-garde Brussels art
The beginnings of success did nothing to help Van
Gogh's depression though, nor did the intervention of the physician Dr. Paul
Gachet. On July 27, 1890, he walked into a field, shot himself in the chest with
a revolver and died two days later.
Although there has been much speculation about the
nature of Van Gogh's mental illness, he is now recognized as one of the world's
greatest artists and a bridge between 19th century Impressionism and
20th century art.
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Art In The News
Controversy Rages Over Pollock
Researchers at Harvard University Art Museum have
thrown fresh doubt over the authenticity of three paintings attributed to
Jackson Pollock. The paintings were part of a batch of 32 discovered by
film-maker Alex Matter whose parents knew the American abstract painter.
According to the researchers, the pictures contain a red paint and a brown
pigment neither of which was available during Pollock's
The authenticity of the paintings has been
defended by Pollock art historian Ellen Landau, who told Reuters "[i]f someone
other than Pollock did do these paintings, he or she had an amazing knowledge of
Pollock's working methods."
Jackson Pollock's No. 5, 1948, became the
world's most expensive painting in November 2006 when it was sold for
Source: New York Times
Could Lost Leonardo Soon See The Light?
A lost masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci could seen
be discovered, if the hunch of engineer and art conserver, Maurizio Seracini,
proves accurate. Seracini, who has been looking for The Battle of Anghiari
for 32 years believes that the painting, which is believed to be three times
the size of The Last Supper, remains where Da Vinci left it: on the wall
of Florence's Renaissance town hall.
In 1505, Florence's leaders asked Da Vinci to
paint the fresco to commemorate the republic's 1440 victory over Milan. Da Vinci
is believed to have abandoned the painting after an experimental fresco
technique failed. A work by the 16th century artist, Giorgio Vasari
now stands in its place.
According to Seracini however, the Da Vinci
original was never destroyed but remains on the wall, with the Vasari painting
placed on a false wall in front of it.
Evidence for the survival of the original include
a small cavity beneath Vasari's mural, and the message "Cerca Trova" -- "Seek
and you shall find" -- painted on a tiny flag in Vasari's battle
"It could be an army motto. Or maybe it doesn't
mean anything. But maybe it's a hint," Seracini told Reuters. Tests on the wall
are estimated to last another ten months.