Van Gogh The Expressionist Essay Research Paper

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Van Gogh: The Expressionist Essay, Research Paper “What lives in art and is eternally living, is first of all the painter, and then the painting.” – Vincent Van Gogh Expressionism is an art form in which the very style itself and the symbols that the artist uses are meant to express his innermost feelings on the subject. Vincent van Gogh has often been hailed as the quintessential expressionist painter. His artwork covers a range of moods over the years, and his canvases are almost mirrors into his troubled soul. Vincent van Gogh lived a troubled life. He once described his childhood as ” cold, gloomy and sterile.” He alienated himself from his parents and siblings by being a stubborn and reclusive child. He was clumsy, uncommunicative, and lived an early life of

solitude, being misunderstood by his own family. The only sibling he had any sort of close relationship with was his brother, Theo. He would later be Vincent?s biggest supporter, both moral and financial, during the formative years of his unsuccessful career in art. As the young Vincent grew up, he realized that art was his calling in life. He decided that he would paint and make a living off his sales. Ironically, though his paintings may sell for millions today?van Gogh actually sold only one painting in his lifetime, and this, for the meager cost of 40 francs. Van Gogh?s problems were numerous. First of all, he just didn?t have the social skills to be happy in his personal life. He had a few disastrous relationships with women before sinking deep into solitude and depression.

His paintings during his troubled romances and the ensuing heartbreaks are filled with darkness and pain, reflecting his inner sorrow. Secondly, while Vincent?s paintings were indisputably brilliant, he simply didn?t have the interpersonal skills to make any sales! The legend has it that he actually used to argue with buyers who praised them, trying to convince them forcefully that his work was not remarkably good! He was an extremely modest man, perhaps overly so. He signed all of his works with simply “Vincent,” never adding the surname. His numerous personal failures are arguably evident in his works at the time. His inability to find companionship and his constant dependence on Theo for financial support depressed him considerably. In his portraits of people and his

scenes during this period, one could argue that the lines and the somber expressions on the faces are practically screaming replicas of van Gogh?s own discontent in life. His scenes are dark and hopeless, with few random splashes of light. This combination of personal shortcomings led to van Gogh?s stints with being an assistant teacher and a bookseller. He failed miserably in both cases. His parents, frustrated with supporting their “failure” of a son, begged him to become a minister. He entered into Theology, but soon realized that he lacked the ability to learn the math and foreign languages necessary. Nonetheless, he did eventually enter an evangelical school, and went on to become a local priest in Brussels. Van Gogh drew new inspiration from working with the poor

peasant class in Brussels. While he found it extremely difficult to communicate his religious viewpoints to them, he was a saint in other ways. He was known to give away his own sparse clothing and money to help them. He became fascinated by their plight, but somehow, living with them began to draw him down to their level. Their harsh living conditions and suffering made him lose faith in religion. In effect, ironically, his congregation converted him! At this point in time, he became fascinated by their charcoal drawings and by scenes of everyday life in utter poverty. One of his most acclaimed paintings from this period is “The Potato Eaters.” This depicts a set of elderly people during the Great Potato Famine in Ireland. The colours are dark and dreary greys, blues, greens