Van Gogh - The Life
How much do I want to read more? 8/10
This sentence will stay with me: "I want to paint what I feel; and to feel what I paint."
We all have a art, a way to express ourselves. A way to reach our emotional state. Our job is to cultivate it to the point it becomes so accurate that it describes ourselves more than a mirror.
What painting will you leave to the world? What footprint? What blood spash? What part of your DNA will be left?
PROLOGUE - A Fanatic Heart
Theo’s mind wandered to the Vincent he had known once: an older brother of passion and restlessness, but also of boisterous jokes, infinite sympathy, and indefatigable wonder.
How could this Vincent, his Vincent, have turned into such a tormented soul?
Theo thought he knew the answer: Vincent was the victim of his own fanatic heart. “There’s something in the way he talks that makes people either love him or hate him,”
Vincent declared in 1881. “I feel a power within me … a fire that I may not quench, but must keep ablaze.”
Whether catching beetles, preaching the Christian gospel, consuming Shakespeare or Balzac in great fevers of reading, or mastering the interactions of color, he did everything with the urgent, blinding single-mindedness of a child.
into a wayward, battered soul: a stranger in the world, an exile in his own family, and an enemy to himself. No one knew better than Theo—who had followed his brother’s tortured path through almost a thousand letters—the unbending demands that Vincent placed on himself, and others.
No one understood better the price Vincent paid in loneliness and disappointment for his self-defeating, take-no-prisoners assaults on life; and no one knew better the futility of warning him against himself. “I get very cross when people tell me that it is dangerous to put out to sea,” Vincent told Theo once when he tried to intervene. “There is safety in the very heart of danger.”
people dismissed Vincent’s art as the work of a madman. One critic described its distorted forms and shocking colors as the “product of a sick mind.”
No one had roamed a more mysterious path than Vincent: a brief, failed start as an art dealer, a misbegotten attempt to enter the clergy, a wandering evangelical mission, a foray into magazine illustration, and, finally, a blazingly short career as a painter. Nowhere did Vincent’s volcanic, defiant temperament show itself more spectacularly than in the sheer number of images that continued to pour forth from his ragged existence even as they piled up, hardly seen, in the closets, attics, and spare rooms of family, friends, and creditors.
Only by knowing Vincent “from the inside,” he insisted, could anyone hope to see his art as Vincent saw it, or feel it as Vincent felt it.
Émile Zola had opened the gates with his call for an art “of flesh and blood,” in which painting and painter merged. “What I look for in a picture before anything else,” Zola wrote, “is the man."
“[Zola] says something beautiful about art,” he wrote in 1885: “ ‘In the picture (the work of art), I look for, I love the man—the artist.’ ” No one collected artists’ biographies more avidly than Vincent—everything from voluminous texts to “legends” and “chats” and scraps of rumor. Taking Zola at his word, he culled every painting for signs of “what kind of man stands behind the canvas.” At the dawn of his career as an artist, in 1881, he told a friend: “In general, and more especially with artists, I pay as much attention to the man who does the work as to the work itself.”
To Vincent, his art was a record of his life more true, more revealing even than the storm of letters that always accompanied it.
Every wave of “serenity and happiness,” as well as every shudder of pain and despair, he believed, found its way into paint; every heartbreak into heartbreaking imagery; every picture into self-portraiture. “I want to paint what I feel,” he said, “and feel what I paint.”
It was a conviction that guided him until his death—only hours after Theo arrived in Auvers. No one could truly see his paintings without knowing his story. “As my work is,” he declared, “so am I.”