Van Gogh

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Art Institute of Chicago, 2001 - Art - 108 pages
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Van Gogh is the fifth title to be published in the Art Institute of Chicago's Artists in Focus series, which features inexpensive, well-produced treatments of key figures in the history of Modern art. Works by Van Gogh are well represented in the Art Institute's collection, which is one of America's finest collections of Impressionist art. Vincent van Gogh is one of the most popular artists in the world. Over the course of his tumultuous life, Van Gogh created magnificent and enduring paintings, familiar the world over. This accessible book offers a fresh glimpse at the works of this remarkable late-19th-century painter and illuminates the passion behind his fiery genius. The publication of this book coincides with the exhibition Van Gogh and Gauguin: The Studio of the South at the Art Institute of Chicago, traveling to the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, and the publication of another Artists in Focus title: Gauguin.

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About the author (2001)

Thomson studied at the University of East Anglia, at the Sorbonne and at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London. Her research has been concerned with late nineteenth-century French painting and in particular with the Nabis.

Vincent Willem van Gogh was born on March 30, 1853, in Zundert, Netherlands, the oldest of six children. He drew frequently as a child, showing great promise as an artist. In 1869, he began working with an art dealer, then was transferred to London, which he liked a great deal. Heading to Amsterdam to study theology and become a pastor, he failed the exam and took a missionary position in Belgium. His brother Theo, with whom he was especially close, suggested that he return to art. In 1881, he moved to the country with his parents and continued drawing. In 1882, he left for The Hague to study oil and watercolor painting. In 1884, Vincent began an affair with a neighbor's daughter, who was ten years older than he, and they became engaged. This plan was opposed by both families and she attempted suicide, but Vincent was able to rush her to as hospital in time to save her. A few months later, his father died from a heart attack, sending him into depression. Moving to Antwerp, he had money only for art supplies, leaving him to eat nothing more than bread, coffee and tobacco. His poor diet caused his teeth to fall out, he caught syphilis and began to drink heavily, but still he managed to pass the entrance exams to the Academy of Fine Arts. In 1886, he moved in with Theo in Paris, where he became friends with artist Paul Gauguin and painted more than 200 works. In 1888, he had an argument with the domineering Gauguin and threatened him with a razor blade. Fleeing to a brothel, he cut off his left earlobe and wrapped it in newspaper. Gauguin later found him at home, covered in blood. Vincent began suffering from hallucinations and claimed that he was being poisoned, and in 1889, committed himself to a mental hospital. It was there that he painted his most famous work, "Starry Night." While his work was on display in Paris, Toulouse-Lautrec and Monet both claimed it was the best in the show. In 1890, he was released from the hospital, but had a relapse. On July 27, Van Gogh staggered from a wheat field, a bullet hole in his chest. Some suppose that he shot himself, although no gun was ever found. The bullet did no internal damage, so he went home to smoke his pipe. Theo rushed to be with him and found him in good shape, but an infection set in and he died 29 hours after being shot on July 29, 1890, at the age of 37, in Auvers-sur-Oise, France. Theo died six months later. Vincent's remains were moved in 1905, to be next to his brother.

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