Sunflowers | Vincent van Gogh | 1888 – Part 2

Sunflowers | Vincent van Gogh | 1888

Sunflowers | Vincent van Gogh | 1888

Comes from Part 1

That crazy Vincent…

Generally, I make an historical introduction of the artist. For this post, I will only focus in those matters that are important for the analysis of the Sunflowers.

As you may have seen, I’m referring to the artist only by his name not because we are close friends, but because Vincent rejected to be known as “van Gogh”. The reason is that, for him, the place of origin was irrelevant. So he only signed much of his works just as “Vincent”, including Sunflowers.

The artist was born in Zundert, a little rural town on the southern Netherlands in a protestant family. His father was a minister from the local Dutch Reformed Church and lived an austere and pious life. So Vincent was raised in a deeply religious context, in which he was encouraged to be a quiet, shy and introspective person. But also, the Christian values of his family made him a kind person, always concerned by others and with a tireless energy to help the ones in need.

From family contacts, the young Vincent worked abroad as an art dealer, as several members of his family belonged to the art world. But his religious sentiment grew and his spiritual preoccupations increased. In search for his call, Vincent wanted to be a pastor, so he is sent to Amsterdam without much success: the artist was not just good for studying. However, he wasn’t discouraged and he accepted a job as a missionary in a coal mine in Belgium. There, Vincent would preach at the same time that he would sympathize and help the workers on their daily tasks. But he went beyond: moved by compassion, the artist resolved that he would live exactly in the same way the workers did, which lead him to starve, to work endless hours or to sleep over hay; although he didn’t need to.

As we can see, Vincent committed very seriously with his projects. And, like he would do with everything, he did it with a concerning intensity. At this point, his strange behavior tells us that the artist’s personality was transforming… slowly. Although there are many theories about the pathology he suffered, we are never going to confirm exactly which was. But, to continue analyzing the Sunflowers, we should have to accept that, at least, Vincent was ill.

With 27 years, the artist had a revelation. His mission was clear: to help others. But, as his attempts to become a pastor or to become a permanent volunteer in the coal mine were unsuccessful, Vincent found out that his mission was to redeem humanity through art. And, for the next 10 years, the artist will complete his work.

Part 3

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~ by Álvaro Mazzino on January 31, 2011.

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