Van Gogh thought that painting was a way to change society and a vehicle for personal salvation. He was a difficult person in his social relations and his economical life: a looser in love matters. His work was also unsuccessful and he would have had troubles to survive if he would have not been helped by his brother Théo. Our artist confronted his life of frustration with a personal point of view. The levels he got took him to kill himself: in one of his latter letters he express in wich way painting was taking him to destruction. He opened new ways to later expressionism.
He was the son of a Protestant pastor and worked for Goupil auctions until he left it because of his wish of helping his fellowmen. Then he became a member of secular apostleship in a poor region in Holland. He tried to enter a protestant Seminar, but he was not admited because of his unstable temper. There is a black legend about him: we always hear of Van Gogh as "the redhaired fool who cut himself an ear". As often happens in History we have to search the causes that took him to make the famous amputation that make him beeing so well-known. Maybe so he would not be seen as the epileptic lunatic who shoot himself in a mental hospital. That is why we will approach to his vital phases.
It was 1879 when he began to paint in a passionately way. He composed several albums copying from natural. He also got impressed by Dutch barroque , specially by Rembrandt because of his chromatism. Van Gogh reflected subjects about popular classes. His conceptual point of view was marked by french literature: he was fascinated by E.Zola. During this phase he exposes with clear realism the indigent people's daily life: he beholds with dignity a situation of social neglect. His tones are now dark; the edge of his figures weakly illuminated, mixed with lights and shadows.
His new departure can be found in french realistic painters: Courbet, Daumier, Millet...
In 1885 he lived in Amberes and knew Rubens and Frank Hals' paintings.
In 1886 visited Paris attracted by Impressionism
so well expounded by his brother Théo. Discovering Impressionism was a hard shock for our artist since he realized that his painting has no validity. He felt himself marginalized and out of fashion. Knowledge of Impressionism
was a encouragement for changing:
In 1888 he travelled to Arlés. He came there advised by Lautrec, searching peace. In Arlés he found a quiet and balanced spring that changed this year on Christmas when he met Gauguin. In Arlés he found a little guest house close to the station's café: he hired the famous Yellow House, where he tried to set his friends' shelter.
These years he paints his best-known masterworks.
Gauguin was invited to Van Gogh's home in order to spend 88's Christmas. Troubles amd discords began to raise between them. Gauguin joked at Van Gogh's ingenuity and attacked his way of painting asserting that true pictorical subjects are those finished in a workshop and not in the open air. In December 23th the riot boomed. Van Gogh, tired of Gauguin's impertinence tries to attack him with a shaving paper. Nevertheless, his collected bitterness made him cut his own ear. It was the first sign of his disease.
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