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Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh is a well-known Post-Impressionist painter who led a short but productive life as an artist. Born in Groot-Zundert, Holland on March 20, 1853 to a middle upper class family, Van Gogh never had any real training as an artist. Through the years, he bounced around different positions from art dealer to an aspiring pastor to salesman, but failed to succeed in any careers which could have been due to his known emotional and mental instability. Van Gogh decided to become an artist in 1880 after years of drawing and copying other artwork, but it wasn’t until 1885, at the age of 32 that he created his first major piece of art.

He started with drawings, still lifes and watercolors and made over 200 oil paintings using darker earth tones despite the more popular style of colorful paintings at the time. In 1886, Van Gogh moved to Paris and experimented with portraits which became his greatest ambition. He became influenced by the French Impressionist style of lighter, more flamboyant paintings and was inspired by the bright sunlight in Southern France to enhance his colors. He began to paint more mainstream Impressionist style with lighter colors but he had difficulty in reproducing the shorter brushstrokes. Abandoning the efforts, he came to paint in the vivid and emotional brushstrokes that made him famous.

The last few years of his life, Van Gogh was committed to numerous mental institutions after cutting off his own ear in 1888. He suffered from mental illness throughout his life but after he severed his own ear and left it on the porch of a frequented house of ill repute he was hospitalized. He continued to paint, however, and created his most popular painting The Starry Night while institutionalized. Between 1885 and 1890, Van Gogh created over 2,000 works of art including drawings, still lifes, watercolors and oil paintings, which is quite an impressive feat considering he was only 37 years old at the time of his death and had only been painting for 5 years. He died on July 29, 1890 of an infection from a self-inflicted gunshot wound just three months after being released from the mental institution.

In the last few years of his life, Van Gogh created some of his best works. Though he only sold one painting during his lifetime, Vincent Van Gogh became one of the most renowned painters in history and his works are some of the most valuable in the world.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." ~Vincent Van Gogh

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