Passport to Paris Artist Profile: Vincent van Gogh

Passport to Paris Artist Profile: Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh was born in the Netherlands in 1853 and lived there during his formational years as an artist. He briefly attended the Academie des Beaux Arts in Brussels and moved around the Netherlands, immersing himself in the lives of the peasants that he painted. In 1886, he moved to Paris, where he met Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro through his brother Theo, who ran a successful art dealership. He moved to southern France in 1888, where the bright sun and rich landscapes further inspired his vibrant use of color.

Vincent van Gogh, Edge of a Wheat Field with Poppies, 1887. Bequest of Frederic C. Hamilton.

Van Gogh is best known for his paintings of flowers, cafes, and landscapes characterized by expressive strokes of saturated color and heavily outlined details. He was largely self-taught and discovered painting only after several failed careers in teaching, ministry, and his family’s art dealership. After meeting the impressionists, he quickly transitioned from painting somber peasant scenes to painting scenes from the countryside surrounding Paris in increasingly vivid colors and expressive brushwork. These paintings evoke his belief that “what is required in art nowadays is something very much alive, very strong in color, very much intensified.”

Image credits:Vincent van Gogh, Self Portrait, about 1887. Oil on canvas; 15 5/8 x 13 1/4 in. Wadsworth Atheneum; Gift of Philip L. Goodwin in memory of his mother, Josephine S. Goodwin.

Vincent van Gogh, Edge of a Wheat Field with Poppies, 1887. Oil on canvas on pasteboard; 15 3/4 x 12 3/4 in. Collection of Frederick C. Hamilton.

Laura Barton is an intern in the Denver Art Museum's education department. Her favorite artwork on view right now is Louis Anquetin's Avenue de Clichy (Street-Five O'clock in the Evening).