The life of Vincent van Gogh and his works
Attractions, Netherlands
 16 Jun '24
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Vincent van Gogh, a name synonymous with artistic genius and emotional turbulence, led a life as vivid and complex as his celebrated paintings. Born on March 30, 1853, in Zundert, Netherlands, Vincent Willem van Gogh’s journey was one marked by passion, innovation, and a relentless pursuit of his art, despite numerous challenges and a lack of recognition during his lifetime.
Image (PDM): Self-portrait with Bandaged Ear and Pipe, by Vincent van Gogh, 1889, private collection

Professional life early years

Van Gogh’s early years were characterized by a sense of searching, both personally and professionally. He worked various jobs, including as an art dealer and a missionary, but it was not until the age of 27 that he fully committed to being an artist. This decision set him on a path of prolific creation, producing around 2,100 artworks, including approximately 860 oil paintings, most within the last two years of his life.

Evolution in his painting style

His style evolved significantly over the years, from the dark and somber tones of his early works to the bright, vibrant colors and dynamic brushstrokes of his later pieces. This shift is particularly evident during his time in Paris from 1886 to 1888, where he was exposed to the works of the Impressionists and Neo-Impressionists, and his palette became lighter and his technique more innovative.


Perhaps the most tumultuous and yet artistically productive period of Van Gogh’s life was his time spent in the South of France. In Arles, he created some of his most famous works, such as “The Starry Night,” “Sunflowers,” and “Café Terrace at Night.” It was also here that he experienced the first major mental breakdown, leading to the infamous incident where he severed part of his ear.

His personal life and philosophy

Despite his mental health struggles, Van Gogh’s dedication to his craft never wavered. His letters to his brother Theo, who provided him with financial and emotional support, reveal a man deeply reflective about his artistic process and philosophical about life.

Posthume recognition

Van Gogh’s impact on art was not fully recognized until after his death on July 29, 1890, at the age of 37. Today, he is celebrated as a key figure in the post-impressionist movement, influencing expressionism and modern art. His works are admired for their emotional intensity, bold colors, and dramatic brushwork, and he is considered one of the greatest artists in Western history.

The legacy of Vincent van Gogh is not only in the masterpieces he left behind but also in the story of his life, which continues to captivate and inspire. His dedication to his art, despite the lack of recognition and personal struggles, serves as a testament to the enduring power of creativity and the human spirit.

Van Gogh museum

Van Gogh museum Amsterdam, near to the Vondelpark, aerial view
Van Gogh museum Amsterdam, near to the Vondelpark, aerial view

GETYOURGUIDEFor those interested in delving deeper into the life and works of Vincent van Gogh, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam offers a comprehensive look at his paintings, drawings, and letters, providing insight into the mind of this extraordinary artist.

Enjoy the wide range of possibilities on GETYOURGUIDE to visit the Van Gogh museum in a group, with or without a guide or in combination with another activity, such as a visit to the Rijksmuseum, a cruise on the city canals, etc.choose the activity that suits you best.

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The Starry Night

The Starry Night, by Vincent van Gogh, June 1889. Museum of Modern Art, New York
The Starry Night, by Vincent van Gogh, June 1889. Museum of Modern Art, New York

“The Starry Night” stands as a testament to Vincent van Gogh’s turbulent yet profoundly creative period during his stay at the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Painted in June 1889, this masterpiece transcends the traditional landscape genre, infusing it with emotional depth and symbolic meaning.

View from his window

The painting captures the view from the east-facing window of Van Gogh’s asylum room, just before sunrise. However, Van Gogh’s vision goes beyond mere replication of the scene; he incorporates an imaginary village, perhaps as a symbol of the idyllic pastoral life that eluded him in reality. The swirling skies, a hallmark of Van Gogh’s style, create a dynamic movement that contrasts with the serene village below. The cypress trees, often associated with mourning, reach upward towards the heavens, perhaps reflecting Van Gogh’s own quest for peace and solace.

Representation of his inner self in relation to the cosmos

“The Starry Night” is more than a depiction of the night sky; it is an embodiment of Van Gogh’s inner state and his relationship with nature, the cosmos, and existence itself. The painting’s iconic status is amplified by its presence in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City since 1941, where it continues to inspire awe and wonder in viewers.

Technique of thick brushstrokes in contrasting colors

Van Gogh’s technique in “The Starry Night” is characterized by thick, impasto brushstrokes that give the painting a sense of vitality and texture. The use of contrasting colors, with the vibrant blues and yellows, creates a visual intensity that makes the painting pulsate with life. This technique was not just a stylistic choice but also a means for Van Gogh to express his emotional and psychological state.

Symbolic meaning

The legacy of “The Starry Night” is not confined to its visual beauty; it has become a symbol of the artist’s struggle, his genius, and the universal human pursuit of meaning and beauty in the face of adversity. It is a work that continues to resonate with audiences around the world, a beacon of artistic brilliance that shines across time and space.

The Vivid Palette of Vincent van Gogh: A Journey Through Color and Emotion

Vincent van Gogh, the Dutch Post-Impressionist painter, is renowned for his vivid use of color and dynamic brushwork, which have captivated art enthusiasts and critics alike. His distinctive style, characterized by an expressive application of paint and bold color choices, has cemented his status as one of the most influential figures in the history of Western art.

Emotional meaning of the use of colors

Van Gogh’s use of vibrant colors was not merely a stylistic choice but a deliberate effort to convey emotions and articulate the deeper psychological resonance of his subjects. He believed that colors could express feelings and moods more powerfully than words. This belief led him to explore the emotional potential of color, using it as a language to communicate his inner experiences and perceptions of the world around him.

Evolution of his style from his first works

The origin of van Gogh’s painting style can be traced back to his formative years as an artist. Initially, his palette was somber, reflecting the dark and melancholic subjects of miners and peasant laborers he often depicted. However, his style underwent a significant transformation after moving to Paris in 1886, where he encountered the works of the Impressionists and Neo-Impressionists. The light and color of these movements greatly influenced van Gogh, inspiring him to experiment with a brighter palette and a more liberated approach to brushwork.

Study of colors, influences and application

Van Gogh’s color theory was also informed by his readings and studies of color. He was particularly influenced by the works of Charles Blanc and the scientific studies of French chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul, which explored the principles of color contrast and harmony. Van Gogh applied these theories to his work, often using complementary colors to create visual tension and vibrancy. For instance, he paired blues with oranges and yellows with purples to enhance the luminosity and impact of his paintings.

Influence of the seasonal changing of colors in nature

The artist’s fascination with the colors of nature, especially the changing hues of the seasons, played a pivotal role in his color choices. The vibrant colors of fall, with its rich reds, yellows, and oranges, deeply influenced van Gogh’s works, leading to creations that not only showcased his technical skill but also his emotional connection to the natural world.

Why they call him a post-impressionist

Van Gogh’s style is often associated with Post-Impressionism, a term that encompasses various individualistic styles that emerged as a reaction to the Impressionists’ focus on the naturalistic depiction of light and color. His approach was unique in its combination of color, form, and texture, which together created a powerful visual language that continues to influence artists and captivate audiences today.


In conclusion, Vincent van Gogh’s use of vibrant colors was a deliberate and thoughtful process, rooted in his emotional landscape and informed by his exposure to contemporary art movements and color theory. His style, originating from a blend of personal experience and artistic influence, remains a testament to his genius and the enduring power of color in art.

Post expires at 3:35pm on Monday September 16th, 2024

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