Vincent Van Gogh and His Contribution to Art Essay

Art has been essential to civilization. It tells us what our culture is. Every artist in history has been writing, composing, and painting the stories of each culture. Master painters like Jaques Louis David painted Napoleon and other historical paintings during the Neoclassical Period. Master composers, such as Bethoven composed works like the Moonlight Sonata. Art defines who are we are, It is civilization, and artists like Vincent Van Gogh influenced the modern world. And even though he lived more than a hundred and fifteen years ago, his work is still altering the way we view beauty, persona and individuality.

Vincent Van Gogh is considered to be one of the most prolific Dutch painters of all time. He only lived to be thirty seven years and was little appreciated during his lifetime. He grew famous some years after his death. He started painting in his late twenties and one of the most unusual facts about Van Gogh is the span of his works. Most artists that uphold historic recognition spend their entire life producing the works that become classics but most of his famous works were made during the final two years of his life.

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He produced more than two thousand artworks, consisting of around nine hundred paintings and one thousand one-hundred drawings and sketches. And all of his work was done in a period of just ten years before he got mentally ill and committed suicide. His pieces include landscapes, portraits, self-portraits and sunflowers and are the most recognizable works of art. His usage of bold, intense colors, his emphatic brushwork is what made him so unique. Contoured forms of his work are very expensive and even emotional.

He used colors for expressing emotions; he was not like the other impressionists who used colors just for the reproduction of visual appearances. He painted what he saw, not the established view, he painted what he felt, not always what was in front of him, and because he was so passionate about his paintings and he valued colors so much, he was known as one of the greatest painters and is known for contributing to the foundations of modern art. Vincent Van Gogh helped to liberate colors as an emotional instrument, and his brushwork became a key influence in the development of both the Fauves’ and the Expressionists’ painting technique.

His thousands of paintings and most famous pieces like Starry Night and Fourteen Sunflowers in a Vase have some unique characteristics that have been copied by thousands and duplicated by none. His work has inspired millions to become active in art. What many people today consider to be the archetypical “artist persona” is largely a result of his influence. Also worth mentioning was his long lasting contribution to the changes in the genre of Expressionism. He influenced that genre not only with his works and statements within those works but also with the changes that his work underwent as the genre adapted to those changes.

He was single-handedly noted for affecting the genre and influencing changes. Van Gogh shared the Enlightenment thinkers ‘esteem for freedom and human dignity, He claimed that he painted in order to ennoble the despised laborers and the poor in hopes of drawing attention to matters that needed to be noticed. For example, his work The Potato Eaters depicted subjects in difficult, even filthy conditions but he did not judge or criticize then. Vincent worked on The Potato Eaters throughout April of 1885. He made several drafts in preparation of the final oil canvas version.

The Potato Eaters is acknowledged to be Vincent van Gogh’s first true masterpiece and he was confident by the outcome. Even though he got upset by any criticism of the work (Vincent’s friend and fellow artist, Anton van Rappard, disliked the work and his comments ended their friendship), he was still pleased with the result and thus began a more confident and accomplished stage of his career. In Arles, he painted his series of sunflowers with vibrant splashes of yellow that created a vibrant affect in the eyes of his viewers. His work Starry Night was done at home in rural settings.

The bizarre whirly affect of the rural night-sky was also the theme of the famous Don MacLean song Starry Starry Night. He loved doing self-portraits and each illustrated the various phases of his life. The common characteristic in all of them was the depth in the eyes that gave an insight on all the insanity and suffering he had to live through. Something very interesting was that Vincent Van Gogh made a lot of enemies while he was alive. He was very loyal to whatever he did and it ruled his life whether it was painting or preaching. In my opinion, he over-did things.

And he did not care what other people opinions were; he would just follow through stubbornly. His bad temper caused him problems and he owed a lot of people money, especially his brother who financed him and kept him up. I think because of his attitude, most people never took him seriously. Most people never become famous during their life time anyway, at least, not world famous and back then, during the 1800’s, if you did not belong to an artist organization or famous art school, you could not make it, unless your family had plenty of money.

Van Gogh had neither of these things going for him and that is why it is questionable to say that he sold one piece during his lifetime. It was not until he was dead that people began to appreciate his art that now sells for millions. If it was not for his wife kept publishing his paintings even after he died, he would not have grown so famous. But despite his not-so-popular years during the 1800’s, today Vincent van Gogh has already come to be regarded as a vanguard figure in the history of modern art.

Works Cited

“Enlightenment The Age of. ” World History International: World History Essays From Prehistory To The Present. Web. 18 Feb. 2011. . Fiero, Gloria K. The Humanistic Tradition. Sixth ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2011. Print. “Georgian & Victorian Jewellery. ” Technical Illustration – Kevin Hulsey Illustration, Inc. Web. 20 Feb. 2011. . “Van Gogh in Today’s Culture. ” Vincent Van Gogh Gallery – Welcome! Web. 19 Feb. 2011. . “Vincent Van Gogh – Biography, Quotes & Paintings – The Art History Archive. ” The Lilith Gallery of Toronto. Web. 20 Feb. 2011. . “Vincent Van Gogh Art. Paintings. Pictures. Desktop Wallpapers. ” MoodBook. Bring Art to Your Desktop! Web. 19 Feb. 2011. .