Over two days, we ponder the life and loves of Vincent Van Gogh.
Missionary, teacher, lover, painter, brother, son, flatmate and world-famous failure, he called himself ‘a sapling caught too young in the frost’. There were family issues from which he never escaped – except perhaps in his paint.
Through his extraordinary letter-writing, we know him well. He hides nothing as we follow him from childhood in Zundert to the Hague, to London, to Paris, to Arles, to St Remy, to Auvers-Sur-Oise, each restless move a crisis, a doorway, and each a re-invention of himself and his work.
‘It is a pity Vincent is his own enemy,’ writes his younger brother Theo, ‘for he makes life difficult not only others, but also himself.’
While the painter and friend Emile Bernard noted his ‘lively gestures, perky step with his everlasting pipe… vehement in speech, interminable in explaining and developing his ideas but not very ready to argue.’
He is also the most famous painter in the world. Why?
Known by everyone as ‘the man who cut off his ear’ and for his suicide, the Van Gogh myth is powerful, but sometimes quite untrue.
So who was Vincent? Where does his damage end and his beauty begin? Or are they one, beneath the starry, starry night?
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Image by Ståle Grut on Unsplash