Vincent van Gogh

I’ve been reading about Vincent van Gogh lately.  The guy was kind of crazy, as you may have heard, and also pretty unbearable.  He was always mooching off of his brother to support himself.  He would have been almost impossible to put up with, I think.

I’ve also been surprised by how many of his paintings were kind of lousy.  One of his famous early paintings was The Potato Eaters, which was not that well-received:

Vincent van Gogh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
To be honest I kind of like that one, but it was not popular in its time, and I can see why.  The ones I really cannot stand are his paintings of farmers at work in sunny fields and colorful little hamlets.  They are painted in a cartoonish, weird style, and oftentimes the lighting is just too much for me. This one, The Olive Trees, gives you some idea:

Vincent van Gogh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I like his night paintings much better.  This one, Starry Night Over the Rhone, I prefer even to his more famous Starry Night:

Vincent van Gogh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I wonder if painting, maybe more so than other artistic endeavors, just requires that you keep at it.  I don’t mean just in terms of practicing to learn how to paint, but even once you are a technically skilled painter, you have to just keeping painting stuff until you happen to get something good.  There are one-hit wonder novelists and musicians, but maybe painting is more of a “quantity leads to quality”  kind of thing.


  1. Aach, Ooh, you are breaking my heart. He is one of my favorite painters. I’ve stopped judging great doers by their personal lives. Otherwise, I would hate them all. I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. He was suffering from such a depression, it’s a wonder he did anything. I think I relate to that. Plus I love his swirls and original take, even if it may seem dark. it was to him.

    1. Oh, I like a lot of his paintings as well. It’s just that–and maybe this shows my ignorance more than anything else–I just sort of assumed that all his stuff would be more like “Starry Night” and less like the bright, sort of surreal fields and stuff that he also did. I was surprised by how so much of his work was not what I expected.

      His darker paintings are AWESOME in my opinion–very evocative.

  2. Van Gough only sold one painting while alive. When his works started auctioning off in the millions it became more about his name and silly rich people parking their money on their walls instead of a bank thinking they’ll get more return on their investment. Starry Night only became popular after the Don McClain song Vincent.

    1. From what I have read, it seems like he deliberately went against the trends in painting. Like, when told that bright paintings were all the rage, he came up with “The Potato Eaters”. I suppose that by the same token, his bright paintings were probably all when darkness was “in”.

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