Thursday, July 24, 2008

Van Gogh - Dark Genius

Vincent van Gogh was a very popular and influential painter and most of his pieces are known throughout the world. Some credit his genius to his mental illness or altered mind state. His bout with schizophrenia voracious appetite for absinthe may have lead to his excessive use of the color yellow. His medical conditions also led to him cutting off part of his ear and subsequently his suicide in 1890.

A melancholy or even dismal tone seems to mark his work, especially towards the end of his career. This period of his artistic life is what he is most remembered for. His painting style is characterized by his very strong deliberate strokes and his application of thick layers of paint on the canvas in order to add texture to his work. I get a feeling of dreary foreboding from some of his work, especially “Wheat Fields with Crows” which he painted the same year he took his life. His depictions of crows in this painting, which typically symbolize death or a bad omen, predicate his thoughts and desires. The audience’s point of view in the three van Gogh paintings above is one of overseeing a landscape. But one also gets the feeling that there is a desolate and oppressing mood of solitude that the painter is exhibiting. Although there may be other inhabitants in the distance, the viewer feels removed from any interaction with them. There is a quiet desperation in his work that leads me to believe that despite his notoriety, van Gogh was alone...

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