Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Van Gogh

  • Artist: Vincent van Gogh
  • Title: The Starry Night
  • Media: Painting (Oil on Canvass)
  • Dimensions: 29" X 361/4"
  •  1889
            Born on March 30, 1853, and dying on July 29, 1890 of a possibly self-inflicted gunshot wound, Vincent Willem van Gogh was a post impressionistic painter of Dutch origin. His work is known for its use of bold color, emotional honesty, and rough beauty. He began drawing as a child, and over his lifetime produced over 2,100 works of art; quite impressive when one considers his untimely death at the age of 37. At the time of his death, van Gogh was relatively unknown, and arguably even less appreciated, but his work had far-reaching influence on the world of 20th century art (
            The challenging nature of van Gogh’s work seems to stem from his troubled, anguished, volatile, and even violent mental state which seemed to ride a roller-coater of manic-depressive like mood swings. When he was in a manic state, his work took on brighter, more hopeful overtones. But while in his depressive states, he was prone to violent outbursts, such as threatening Gaugin with a razor ( One of these depressive states lead to a famous incident in which van Gogh cut off one of his ears as a tribute of devotion for a love interest. His mood swings can be seen in his many self-portraits (some of which are bright and airy, while others seem weighted down with a stern look in his eyes), and help explain some of the drearier, more melancholy subject matters of some of his work.
            The work presented, The Starry Night, seems to challenge the blurry line of his mood swings. While the overall color scheme of the piece is dark and foreboding, that darkness is broken up with bright star and moon images that radiate with their own sense of inner hope. Also in the piece, van Gogh seems to challenge his audience to see the world the way he does, as a swirling calliope of light and color.
            By asking for no excuses in presenting the world in the way he saw it, van Gogh challenged the audience to accept his vision and what he had to say. The fact that he was under-appreciated during his lifetime, but has gone on to become one of the most influential artists of the 19th century, van Gogh showed that he was willing to challenge the conventions of his time, and would force the world of art to evolve in a way that accommodated his vision.

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