van gogh 5Vincent van Gogh, The Vicarage at Nuenen, 1885

“What am I in the eyes of most people — a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person — somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then — even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart. That is my ambition, based less on resentment than on love in spite of everything, based more on a feeling of serenity than on passion. Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me. I see paintings or drawings in the poorest cottages, in the dirtiest corners. And my mind is driven towards these things with an irresistible momentum.”– Vincent van Gogh

van goghVincent van Gogh, 1889

“It’s true that if I could have had another room in the house I could have stayed, but the people of the house needed it, this other room, to do their household chores and washing, and even if I paid a little more there was no way of having it. It’s also true that for the Exercises au fusain and Les Modeles d’apres la bosse from Bargue, I did draw them there all the same, either in the little study or outside in the garden, but now that I’ve come to the portraits after Holbein &c. in the 3rd part of the Course de dessin, it wouldn’t do any harm. “

van gogh 2Vincent van Gogh, Flying Fox

“Then as soon as you could send them I’d be absolutely set upon copying all of Bargue’s Etudes a fusain again, you know the nude figures. I can draw them quite quickly, let’s say the 60 sheets that there are in a month, so you might send a copy on loan, I’d make sure not to stain or dirty it. If I neglected to keep on studying proportions and the nude I’d find myself in a bad position later on. Don’t think this absurd or futile.”–letter dated June  3, 1890, the month before he shot himself

van gogh 3Vincent van Gogh, Kingfisher by the Waterside, 1887

“I persist in believing that–not because I gave you a piece of my mind but because it will become your own conviction–I persist in believing that you’ll realize that in the studios not only does one not learn very much as far as painting goes, but not much that’s good in terms of savoir vivre, either. And that one finds oneself obliged to learn to live, as one does to paint, without resorting to the old tricks and trompe l’oeil of schemers.”

van gogh 4Vincent van Gogh, Snowy Landscape with Arles in the Background, 1888

“It’s well worth sacrificing selfishness, the ‘each man for himself,’ in the common interest.”

van gogh 6Vincent van Gogh, Skull of Skeleton with Burning Cigarette, 1886

“And he’ll [Dr. Gachet] perhaps have me do some portraits. Now to have clients for portraits one must be able to show diffeent ones that one has done. That’s the only possibility I can see of placing something. But however, however, certain canvases will one day find collectors. Only I think that all the fuss created by the large prices paid lately for Millets &c. has further worsened the state of things as regards the chance one has of merely recouping one’s painting expenses. It’s enough to make one dizzy. So why are we thinking about it, it would stupefy us. Better still, perhaps, to seek a little friendship and live from day to day.”–letter dated June  3, 1890, the month before he shot himself

van gogh 7Vincent van Gogh, Hospital at Saint-Rémy, 1889

“A rather melancholy letter from Gauguin, he talks vaguely of having definitely decided on Madagascar, but so vaguely that one can clearly see that he’s only thinking of it because he doesn’t really know what else to think about. And the execution of the plan seems almost absurd to me.”–letter to Theo, July 2, 1890

van gogh  8

Vincent van Gogh, View of the Church of Saint Paul de Mausole

From a letter from Paul Gauguin to Vincent, dated June 28, 1890:

Alas, I see myself condemned to be less and less understood, and I must hold fast to following my way alone, to drag out an existence without a family like a pariah. So the solitude in the woods seems to me in the future to be a new and a lost  dreamed-of paradise. The savage will return to savagery.

van gogh 9

Vincent van Gogh, Landscape Under a Stormy Sky

“I would rather die of passion than of boredom.”

van gogh 10Vincent van Gogh, Wheat Field with a Lark

“I no longer see any possibility or good hope, but anyway it wasn’t yesterday that we found out that his profession isn’t a happy one.”

van gogh 11Vincent van Gogh, The Church at Auvers, 1890

“But no matter what one does, the question of money is always there like the enemy before the troops, and one can’t deny it or forget it. I retain my duties in that respect as much as anyone. And perhaps some day I’ll be in a position to repay all that I’ve spent, because I consider that what I’ve spent is, if not taken from you at least taken from the family, so consequently I’ve produced paintings and I’ll do more. That is to act as you too act yourself. If I had private means, perhaps my mind would be freer to do art for art’s sake, now I content myself with believing that in working assiduously even so, without thinking of it one perhaps some progress. Here are the colours I would need:

3 emerald green, 2 cobalt, 1 ultramarine, 1 orange lead, 6 zinc white (large tubes)”

van gogh 12Vincent van Gogh, Trunk of an Old Yew Tree, 1888

“But I still have absolutely no will, hardly any desires or none, and everything that has to do with ordinary life, the desire for example to see friends again, about whom I think however, almost nil. That’s why I’m not yet at the point where I ought to leave here soon, I would still have melancholy for everything. And it’s even only in these last days that the repulsion for life has changed quite radically. There’s still a way to gom from there to will and action.”

van gogh13Vincent van Gogh, Olive Grove, 1889

“But joking apart, the fear of madness passes from me cosiderably upon seeing from close at hand those who are affected with it, as I may very easily be in the future… Before I had some repulsion for these beings, and it was something distressing for me to have to reflect that so many people of our profession, Troyon, Marchal, Meyron, Judt, M. Maris, Monticelli, a host of others, had ended up like that. I wasn’t even able to picture them in the least in that state.”

About trueoutsider

I'm an artist.
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4 Responses to Vincent

  1. goetzkluge says:

    Sadly, probably nobody told van Gogh during his lifetime, how beautiful his paintings were. But I can tell you, that your’s are.

  2. trueoutsider says:

    Thanks, Goetz. It means a lot to me personally for you to have written that. I can’t recall anyone ever saying that about my paintings. I greatly identify with van Gogh and his work and letters have held me up through some really difficult times.

    There’s a very good movie on van Gogh by Maurice Pialat that I’d highly recommend. For me, it’s the best movie ever made about the life of an artist. I can’t think of any other movie that is much more than absurd bathos, romantic nonsense or played for comedy (Alec Guiness as Gulley Jimson). Pialat was himself a painter and he understands that life in a way that those who haven’t lived it can’t. I was with another woman artist when I saw the film and after it was over she said, “So I guess it turns out Van Gogh was a complete asshole.”

    That said it all to me… This woman’s total insensitivity to the condition Vincent was in, and that if Vincent were alive today the treatment would be exactly the same as it was during his lifetime.

    So deep thanks for your kind remark. They’re few and far between at best.

    And a very hearty handshake,

  3. Jack Armstrong says:

    Vincent was the father of modern art, & changed the art world, yet was ignored in his time. By using the internet, a handful of art revolutionaries are defying the dealers, critics and curators that define the modern art cartel. I have never worked with a dealer or press agent, yet have sold the most expensive art motorcycle, and bicycle in history. VIVA the INDEPENDENT ARTIST, no greatness will ever come from a cabal of art professionals, and critical review. I am planning to unveil the $100M. Dollar Art-Car named: the “Cosmic Star-Cloud Convertible,” the world’s most valuable automobile in 2016. “VINCENT LIVES”… JACK ARMSTRONG, ARTIST, L.A.

  4. trueoutsider says:

    Jack, Vincent wasn’t the father of modern art. He was one among a large number of other artists who were extending the Western Tradition of painting and firmly rooted in that tradition. Vincent not only studied at various academies, you can read in the letters I quoted that into the last year of his life he was requesting Theo send him the Bargue studies to work from. Those studies were part of the standard training of Academy artists.

    What we have going on to day has nothing whatsoever to do with Vincent van Gogh or contemporaries. Nor is it resident solely in the “modern art cartel” as you refer to it. There’s no difference between the “modern art cartel” and the “how-to-paint-like-Old-Masters cartel” of instructional video programs and certified masterpieces by the instructors teaching the techniques.

    It’s a sham. It’s a fraud. It’s “a sucker born every minute” art. It’s Guy de Bord’s society of the spectacle.

    For instance, you might try explaining to me how a 100M dollar art car differs in anything but form (and price) from a Damien Hirst 50 million pound diamond studded skull.

    If you want to complete in the Barnum and Bailey world that’s fine with me. Best of luck with it. But it has nothing whatsoever to do with van Gogh or art. The MCA in Chicago has a David Bowie show. A German museum is converting to a disco to showcase their show of some Zappa knockoff art band. Museums no longer show art, as de Bord among others pointed out decades ago culture has turned into entertainment spectacle.

    And I don’t think imitating the modern art cartel is defying the modern art cartel or that there’s anything revolutionary about it if it’s simply to replace a diamond studded skull with an art car. I was just reading in the Wall Street Journal last week about a guy selling his customized art cars. The art car has been around for decades as well, and wholly approved of and endorsed by reactionary newspapers like the Wall Street Journal.

    The lineage you can trace your work back to isn’t van Gogh and the other great painters of the past…. The lineage the art cars come out of is Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp spent his life making anti-art. Duchamp was the greatest friend Wall Street could have ever conceived. And I’m afraid that VINCENT LIVES is an inappropriate slogan, as Vincent didn’t appropriate manufactured objects and call them art. That was Duchamp’s speciality. MARCEL LIVES should be the appropriate slogan. Then you could perform the same revolution that Marcel performed as you attack the modern art cartel until you’re embraced by the modern art cartel and everyone can roll in cash playing rock music and selling their ancillary paraphernalia while riding around in art Cadillacs.

    Like I say, all the best. I hope you do well. Also, there’s no need whatsoever for a revolution. Wall Street and the Wall Street art world are imploding. If I can manage to keep my health intact I might even live to see the whole Godawful mess go up in smoke, but I imagine it will unfortunately be coupled with everything else going up in smoke.

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