Vincent Van Gogh's Letters to His Brother Contain Life Advice Everyone Should Follow
I think that the question of the breaking of colours in the relationships of the colours will occupy you too one day. For as an art expert and critic, one must also . Van Gogh's Relationship with Gauguin Ended in Masterpieces Each critical idea Van Gogh received was taken as an advice on In order to convince Gauguin to come to Arles, Vincent calls to his brother, Theo van Gogh. Deborah Heiligman is the author of Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers, a biography of the artist seen through his relationship with his brother Theo.
Crafted when Van Gogh was 26 and recently out of a job, his missives are astonishing in its quiet but brilliant observations about relationships, purpose, love, loneliness and self-discovery. Sometimes in winter it's so bitterly cold that one says, it's simply too cold, what do I care whether summer comes, the bad outweighs the good.
But whether we like it or not, an end finally comes to the hard frost, and one fine morning the wind has turned and we have a thaw. Getty Images A year later, in another letter to Theo, Van Gogh again made reference to the trouble of finding a life path. But he also argued one doesn't need to know the destination before one starts — that not knowing where one is headed is, contrary to popular belief, just fine: The goal will become clearer, will take shape slowly and surely, as the croquis becomes a sketch and the sketch a painting, as one works more seriously, as one digs deeper into the originally vague idea, the first fugitive, passing thought, unless it becomes firm.
One who has been rolling along for ages as if tossed on a stormy sea arrives at his destination at last; one who has seemed good for nothing, incapable of filling any position, any role, finds one in the end, and, active and capable of action, shows himself entirely differently from what he had seemed at first sight. He wasn't done there, though. On bucking the trend of conformity: One may remain in this period of moulting, one may also come out of it renewed, but it's not to be done in public, however; it's scarcely entertaining, it's not cheerful, so it's a matter of making oneself scarce" On creativity: Love that friend, that person, that thing, whatever you like, you'll be on the right path to knowing more thoroughly, afterwards; that's what I say to myself.
But he was also unquestionably ill. How did his art and illness interact? Was painting a potential cure, or a symptom? Van Gogh contemplated both possibilities.
But what he did not do is give up. He looked with pity on other inmates who sat somnolently while he worked. This was no enlightened modern hospital but an asylum of the Victorian age, where the doctor who admitted Van Gogh inadequately diagnosed "epilepsy".
In that place he painted this rapturous garden.
Rare Vincent Van Gogh photo most likely of artist's brother Theo, museum says
The curators of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam have worked for years on a new edition of his letters, five volumes of them, with facsimiles, English translations, copious illustrations: An exhibition, The Real Van Gogh: Reading the new edition of Van Gogh's letters from cover to cover turned out to be a shocking, upsetting, at times frustrating experience that destroyed my previous idea of this great artist.
I had previously formed an almost reassuring view of Van Gogh as an intense, troubled, tragic, yet at the same time inspiring man. The sheer mass of peculiarities and sadnesses makes him uttely real and — for all his genius — less easy to empathise with.
His achievement was not to conquer illness, but to drag something out of its isolating darkness.
Long before he became an artist, he was a writer. It does you a lot of good when you're out of spirits, as I quite often am nowadays. His earliest surviving letters date fromwhen he was His very first, dated 29 Septemberis addressed to Theo — as is his last, dated 23 July He wrote to other people too — including artist friends such as Emile Bernard and Paul Gauguin, and his sister Wilhelmina, who was herself to spend decades in an asylum.
Brotherly love: Vincent & Theo - Van Gogh Museum
Together these letters amount to a literary work of epic proportions. It's not just that Van Gogh wrote letters. He poured his heart into them. You smell the very tobacco-laden breath and musty clothes of Van Gogh. The shape of the man these massed words slowly reveal is much baggier and saggier and perplexing than any actor in any film could portray. Often the silences say the most. A series of letters from were destroyed by his family for the embarrassing reason that in these months his father was making active plans to have him incarcerated in a psychiatric hospital.
Vincent van Gogh photo most likely of artist's brother Theo, Van Gogh Museum says today - CBS News
This was nearly a decade before the crisis that led to his eventual hospitalisation. Van Gogh's family doubted his mental wellbeing all along. When it became more than that, it was to kill them both — for when Vincent succumbed to his visionary extremes, his brother's health collapsed and he died soon afterwards like a grief-struck spouse.
The copiousness, too, is eloquent. The excess of Van Gogh's need to communicate becomes tragic. It so clearly exceeds what Theo can say in reply, what anyone can say.
Sometimes he gets a reply, sometimes he doesn't. Always he is alone. His letters take on a new joy and conviction when he starts teaching himself to draw.
The most uplifting letter he ever wrote was sent from Etten, where his parents were then living, to Theo in September In it, he describes his efforts to draw the local peasants at work and in their cottages. The reason it is so beautiful is that he includes sketches of what he has been doing. These sketches are marvellous — even though he has only recently started drawing, and has no formal art education. He is so manifestly gifted. He is, suddenly, on his way.
As he says in the letter, "a change has come about in my drawing. I'm no longer so powerless in the face of nature as I used to be. Instead, he fell out with his family againset up studio in The Hague, but alienated his friends there — not to mention Theo, who was paying.
His drawing went on getting stronger but there was no parallel conquest of everyday life. Nor did things improve when he migrated to France. Then on 20 February he got off the train in Arles in Provence, where he planned to found a colony for artists, a "studio of the south".
The collapse of that dream is the most infamous chapter in his life.
Van Gogh: in his own words
After a lot of cajoling from Theo, Gauguin agreed to stay with Vincent, as potentially the leader of the studio. But they started arguing, Van Gogh got more and more stressed, and suddenly confronted Gauguin with a razor.
That same night he cut off part of his own ear and gave the bloody flesh to a horrified prostitute.
- Vincent Van Gogh's Letters to His Brother Contain Life Advice Everyone Should Follow
- Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers
- Meet Vincent