How Vincent Van Gogh shaped my vision of art
by Janet Glatz
When I was a Junior in high school, my English teacher assigned a theme on "a person you admire." It was a long time ago, but I remember vividly how excited I was about researching and writing about one of the most famous painters in the world.
Van Gogh is one of the most influential artists of all time, but he struggled mightily to make a name for himself during his brief life. Born in the village of Groot-Zundert, Holland on March 30, 1853, Van Gogh was part of a religious, upper middle class family, and after much traveling and various unfulfilling occupations, he took up painting with almost no formal training. His tremendous life's work of landscapes, still-lifes, portraits and sketches with their vibrant colors and subjective perspective would revolutionize how the world viewed art.
Vincent was a deeply troubled soul. Though he fought depression and mental illness, he still managed to create an intense and arresting universe of images.
From November 1881 to July 1890, van Gogh produced close to 900 paintings. At the age of 27, he abandoned his unsuccessful careers as an art dealer and a missionary and concentrated on his painting and drawing. When he began painting he used peasants and farmers as models and then flowers, landscapes and himself because he was too poor to pay his subjects.
Van Gogh was never famous as a painter during his lifetime and constantly struggled with poverty. He sold only one painting while he was alive: The Red Vineyard (above) which went for 400 francs in Belgium seven months before his death. His most expensive painting Portrait of Dr. Gachet was sold for $148.6 million in 1990.
What drew me to Van Gogh's exuberant, colorful style? The very "differentness" of it. He was so far ahead of his time, but sadly ignored by 99.9% of the world before his death.
I remember feeling so sad for him after reading about his ultimate bottom-hitting episode when he cut off one ear. Was it because of the internal pain he suffered? Did he use it as a mechanism to ease the deeper pain of his broken heart? I wonder.
Much more recently, I did a copy of one of his works as part of a painting in my series of eco-art studies, shown below. It was an honor to have a reason and the ability to do so.
Fukushima Tsunami, 2010 by Janet Glatz
For more about and by Janet Glatz, visit www.janetglatz.com