I want to get to the point where people say of my work
that man feels deeply.
-- Letter to his brother Theo, 21 July 1882
More than a century after his death, Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) has become a legend, and his paintings are icons in the popular imagination. Their wide appeal, however, should not overshadow their importance in the development of modern art. For all their appearance of spontaneous creation, his works were rationally conceived. Striving to express visually his deepest feelings--whether of happiness or anguish--Van Gogh was innovative in his use of bold color contrasts and dynamic brushwork. The singular intensity he brought to painting became a source for many expressionist movements of the twentieth century. This selection of seventy-two paintings surveys Van Gogh's entire career, from the rural scenes he painted in Holland in the early 1880s to the sun-drenched wheatfields from his years in the south of France, to the last, more subdued landscapes of Auvers-sur-Oise painted shortly before his death in 1890.
Van Gogh was born in 1853 in the small village of Zundert, in the south of Holland. After unsuccessful attempts as an art dealer, a teacher, and a clergyman, he decided in his mid-twenties to devote himself to painting and drawing. Working often in the open air, Van Gogh expressed his love of the countryside and his sympathy with the peasants in rural landscapes and depictions of working women. The somber colors and thick application of paint, characteristic of these early works, evoke the soil on which the peasants walk and the earth of which their houses are made.
List of all objects in this room
Copyright © 2008 National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC