Vincent Van Gogh is a Dutch post impressionist painter who has a tragically short career. His work represents the archetype of expressionism, the idea of emotional spontaneity in painting. Vincent van Gogh was born on March 30, 1853, in Groot-Zundert, Holland. He was the eldest son of six children in the family, and his father was a Dutch Protestant pastor. By the age of 27 he had been a salesman in an art gallery, a French tutor, a theological student, and a preacher among the miners at Was mes in Belgium. When he was twelve to sixteen years old, he went to a boarding school, and the next year he started working at The Hague for his uncle who was an art dealer.
While working, he realized that he was more interested in literature and religion than a business. Then he worked for awhile as a preacher among poverty miners in Belgium. Vincent worked really hard for the poor since he was very much dissatisfied with the way people made money. His experience as a preacher is reflected in his first paintings of peasants and potato diggers. He became really obsessed with art when he was 27.
His early drawings were dark and somber, sometimes crude, but strong and full of feelings. In 1881, at age 28, he moved to E tten. Van Gogh liked the pictures of peasant life and labor that were first to be painted by Jean-Francois Millet, who had great influences on Van Gogh. His first paintings were crude but improving. In order for him to come up with the most important painting of his pre-impressionist period he had to make a number of studies of peasant hands and heads. And in April 1885 he painted a scene, The Potato Eater, in Holland.
When he painted The Potato Eaters, he had not yet discovered the importance of color. In 1886 van Gogh went to Paris to live with his brother Theo van Gogh, an art dealer, and became familiar with the new art movements developing at the time. Until 1886, he had only known the Dutch painters an French landscape painters including Millet. Now influenced by the work of the impressionists and Japanese printmakers, van Gogh began to experiment with current techniques and color. Paris opened his eyes to the senses and beauty of the visible world and taught him the pictorial language of the color patch. However, his painting continued to be under his personal emotion.
In 1888 van Gogh left Paris for southern France, where he painted scenes of the fields, cypress trees, peasants and rustic life characteristic of the region. He produced his greatest pictures there. Van Gogh felt that Impressionist art could not express the feeling, especially sorrow, of the human soul. He believed that impressionism did not allow the artist enough freedom to express his inner feelings. Van Gogh thought it was the color, not the form, that determined the expressive content of his pictures. He believed in the importance of color to express the state of mind of the model represented.
Work of the Post-Impressionists revealed a freely expressive use of color and form. As in A Wheat field, with Cypresses he made his paintings subjective through the expressive use of color and line, unlike the impressionists' aim of depicting subject naturalistically. While living at Arles, he began to use the swirling brush strokes and intense yellows, greens, and blues associated with works as Bedroom at Arles and Starry Night. He loved using bright colors, especially yellow, and painted what he saw and felt. He painted in colors with bright hues and high value. In Arles he became aware of the greatest importance of his portrait although he mostly painted landscapes.
During the last several years of his life, van Gogh created a number of self-portraits with expressive brush strokes and vibrant colors. In southern France van Gogh lived for a time with Paul Gauguin, whom he had met earlier in Paris. However in less than two months they began to have violent disagreement and quarrels, in which Van Gogh threatened Gauguin with a razor; the same night, van Gogh cut off part of his own ear repenting. On May 8, 1889, he was admitted to St. Remy hospital as a voluntary patient.
Under the care of a sympathetic doctor, van Gogh spent three months at Avers. Feeling that he would no longer be able to paint van Gogh shot himself on July 27, 1890 just after completing his last painting, Crows in the Wheatfields, and died two year later. In the painting his emotional intensity is shown thought the thick brush stroke and the ominous crows, which are symbols of death. Throughout his life he made an output of about 750 paintings and 1600 drawings.