imuse_header

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gogh, Vincent van


The Sower (Sower at Sunset)
Arles, June 1888
oil on canvas
64 × 80.5 cm
Kroller-Muller Museum, Otterlo, The Netherlands

"I dream of painting and then I paint my dream." (Gogh)
Gogh wrote to his brother, Theo, in April 1885, "One of the most beautiful things by the painters of this century has been the painting of DARKNESS that is still COLOR."

Gogh painted an autumnal scene of sowing. The motif of the peasant sowing had fascinated him since his earliest months as an artist. In letters written in June he referred directly to Millet's Sower but he complained that it lacked colour. It was one of van Gogh's aims to correct this, in a sense to update the subject Millet had made so famous, and which was for Gogh so resonant, by repainting the motif using modern colour theory. In the autumn of 1888 he made two paintings named "The Sower".

Vincent Willem van Gogh (1853-1890) was a Dutch post-Impressionist painter whose work, notable for its rough beauty, emotional honesty, and bold color, had a far-reaching influence on 20th-century art. He spent his early adulthood working for a firm of art dealers, traveling between The Hague, London and Paris, after which he taught for a time in England. One of his early aspirations was to become a pastor and from 1879 he worked as a missionary in a mining region in Belgium where he began to sketch people from the local community.

In 1885, he painted his first major work The Potato Eaters. His palette at the time consisted mainly of somber earth tones and showed no sign of the vivid coloration that distinguished his later work. In 1886, he moved to Paris and discovered the French Impressionists. Later, he moved to the south of France and was influenced by the strong sunlight he found there. His work grew brighter in color, and he developed the unique and highly recognizable style that became fully realized during his stay in Arles in 1888. After years of painful anxiety and frequent bouts of mental illness, he died at the age of 37 in 1890 from a gunshot wound, generally accepted to be self-inflicted (although no gun was ever found). His work was then known to only a handful of people and appreciated by fewer still.

Gogh did not begin painting until his late twenties. He completed many of his best-known works during his last two years. In just over a decade, he produced more than 2,100 artworks, consisting of 860 oil paintings and more than 1,300 watercolors, drawings, sketches and prints. His work included self portraits, landscapes, still lifes of flowers, portraits and paintings of cypresses, wheat fields and sunflowers. The extent to which his mental health affected his painting has been a subject of speculation since his death. According to an art critic, his late works show an artist at the height of his ability, completely in control and "longing for concision and grace".