Vincent Van Gogh was a man in a hurry,an artist of tremendous energy and prodigious output.He killed himself when he was only 37,but he left behind him more than 2,000 paintings and drawings,which established his reputation in a way he would never have considered possible.
Van Gogh was born on March 30,1835at Groot Zundert in the Dutch province of Noord Brabant.He was the son of a clergyman.His first artistic impressions were formed as a boy,from his uncle who was an art dealer.The motivation bore early fruit and from the age of 12the young Vincent was drawing.The interest led to an apprenticeship in an art dealer's firm,Groupil's,in the Hague.When he was only 20,he was transferred to the firm's London office.
In London Van Gogh faced his first major crisis,when he was rejected in love.After that,he turned to religion,expressed disapproval with art-dealing and neglected his work,Groupil transferred him from London to Paris but,when his work was still unsatisfactory,dismissed him in 1876.
The young Van Gogh made religion a consuming interest and during the next few years traveled in Britain,Belgium and Holland,trying to establish himself as a preacher,but without success.He developed strong opinions on social morality,customs and church life and alienated those he mixed with by an uncompromising attitude.
In 1880,at the age of 27,he found himself drawn back to art.He had a job as an assistant evangelist in the mining village of Borinage in Belgium but realized an artistic drive which was to motivate him unceasingly until his death 10years later.Although he returned to Noord Brabant and his family early in 1881,his first recognized works were set in Borinage and reflected the rural culture in which he was living and his belief in order and symmetry in both society and art.The period resulted in what became known as the Brabant canvases.
At this time he was becoming obsessed with artistic development.Although he was limited in practical experience,his work showed confidence and maturity from the start,no doubt influenced by the strength of his personal convictions.It was not an easy time,however,emotionally.There were tensions within the family,now that he was living back with his parents in Brabant.He was short of money and rebelling against social and academic standards.
Late in 1881he moved to the Hague and established a relationship with a woman,Christine Hoornik,with whom he lived for a time.He broke with her in 1883,however,and never again established a significant intimate relationship with a woman.
Between 1883and 1886,at Noord Brahant again,his painting developed into characteristic dark landscapes and scenes of country life.He stressed character and expression rather than perspective and physical accuracy;he was already experimenting with impressionism.
In 1886Van Gogh left Holland forever and traveled via Antwerp to Paris,and to major changes in artistic style.Van Gogh's work became more youthful in Paris.He lived with his brother,Theo,who managed the modern department of an art dealer's.A new,more animated,painting style emerged and the impressionist tendencies of earlier work weakened somewhat.
Van Gogh developed a taste for personalized brushwork and brilliant,unmixed colours.Among his most prominent experiments with colour were a series of some 30flower paintings,a fascination which stayed with him until his death.