Van Gogh in Blue

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 Vincent Van Gogh (d. 1853-1890) was a 19th century artiest that is most notable know for his oil painting Starry Night. However, Van Gogh didn’t initially set out to become an artiest. He grew up in the Netherlands and the son of a missionary. He attempted to become a missionary, preacher, and teacher without much success. He was later dismissed by the church in 1880. He then found a career in art. During his life time he completed 900 painting and over 1,000 drawing. His first works were very dark. His worked slowly changed and during his finally months’ blue seemed to control the tone of all his works. Was this apart of faltering mental health and the burned he preserved himself to be to his brother Theo? In the finale works of Van Gogh such as Adeline Ravoux (1890) and Wheat Field with Crows (1890) the blues give ominous vibes of loneliness and suffering. The life of Vincent threw color and how his environment and mental state effected his perception of the world around him. Despite creating such a large amount of work he did not sell much of anything. He had his first commission drawing in 1882 by His Uncle C. H. Van Gogh, an art dealer. Around the same time as the commission Vincent took painting lessons from Anton Mauve were he was taught the basics of painting in watercolor and oils.

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He began to work in very rich browns and blacks tones. His brother, Th©o, was supporting him. The plan was that Th©o would take his art and sell it in the Paris art market. Vincent’s work was distinctly too dark of a tone for the trends at moment and never sold. After his Father death in 1885 he enrolled in academy of art in Antwerp and left the Netherlands. Vincent found the classes too traditional and even wrote to Th©o about it. After leaving the school Vincent and Th©o arranged for him to go to Paris and take lessons in the studio of Fernand Cormon. Due to his brother being the manger of Goupil Art Dealers, Van Gogh was exposed to many modern artiest influenced him to experiment more and move away from the dark tones. His creativity flourished in Paris. The city life seem to strain on Vincent after 2 years. He took a day train ride to south of France in 1888 and settled in Arles. Th©o set up for the Artiest Paul Gauguin to go live and work with Vincent. While they worked hard and had some great collaboration they had very different ideologies about art. The strained friendship resulted in the famous ear incident. This incident lead to a noticeable decline in Van Gogh’s health. Fearing more illness Van Gogh voluntarily admitted himself to Psychiatry Hospital in Saint-R©my in 1889. His health verried during his time at the clinic. During good periods he would be allowed to paint outside but during a period of confusion he ate his oil paint. This lead to being restricted to only drawing.

During his year there he created 150 paining. During and after his time at the clinic Van Gogh 1 Van Gogh Museum painting shows heavier and heavier uses of blue. During his last year Van Gogh spent all of his time painting. His health seemed to even improve with the speed of painting. Later due to financial dependence and health Vincent felt burned with stress. He painted and wrote to his brother about the wheat fields that conveyed “they’re immense stretches of Wheatfield’s under turbulent skies, and I made of point of trying to express sadness, extreme loneliness”.1 He would later walk to the fields and shoot himself in the chest with a pistol. He would die three days later. Van Gogh Life lead him down a interesting exploration of the world around him. You can see as he moves around France and is exposed to more modern artist his concept of color start to change. His colors become more alive and vibrant. The first paintings becoming more and more a distant memory. In 1888 before his first episode his use of the color blue is preset but is not a dominating factor. Its not till 1889 that the blues truly take over. In the works done during his time at the clinic the colors change drastically. His brush strokes become more pronounced during this time. The brush strokes almost showing the fractured of mind and stress that Van Gogh was facing at the clinic.

The color blue can be seen taking over his emotional connection to the painting. As seen in Image 1 the blue and green brush strokes in the background creating a calming swirl of colors and emotion. His facial expression giving the impression that he’s in pain and doesn’t seem to know how else to express it. Leaving him looking confused and in pain. All this under that blanket of tranquility and depressive tone of blue. 1 Van Gogh Museum While Figure one shows good incited to Van Gogh relationship with color its not till his final month that it really becomes evident that it was more than just an understanding. In Figure 2, painted the year of his death, depicts women in a light blue dress and a dark blue background. The background, a mixture of blue and black strokes, expresses something very chaotic and sinister. While the women is more calm and accepting. This contrast of emotions shows how Van Gogh was at constant contradiction with himself.

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Van Gogh in Blue. (2021, Apr 10). Retrieved January 31, 2023 , from

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