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Vincent van Gogh: Infusing Life and Heart into Each Brushstroke, Part 2 of 3

2021-07-15
Lingua:English

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Vincent once said, “I want to give the wretched a brotherly message. When I sign [my paintings] ‘Vincent,’ it is as one of them.” From then on, Vincent lived an extremely austere life, often having to make a choice between pigments and food. Contemporary artists he admired, in particular, Jean-François Millet, had a profound influence on Vincent’s artistic development, especially on choosing the rural life as his subject matter.

Not only did the beauty of Japanese art inspire Vincent, but also the naturalism and philosophy they expressed spoke to his heart. From March 1886 to February 1888, while staying in Paris, Vincent was exposed to the works of the Impressionists, observed the innovations of the Post-impressionists, and became enthused with Japanese art. Under these influences, his style underwent significant changes, and his palette became lighter and more vibrant, with the elements of Pointillism and Japanese prints becoming visible in his works. “Portrait of Père Tanguy,” painted in 1887, is the culminating work of more than 200 paintings Vincent finished in this period. The transition from the initial darker color tone of the Copenhagen portrait to the final vibrant and cheerful Paris version illustrates Vincent’s artistic evolution.

In February 1888, he departed Paris for Arles, a town in Provence, south of France. His artistry also blossomed, and his inspiration and aspiration made his Arles period more prolific. Flowing trees, open fields, labouring farmers, and bridges are the motifs he painted with intense color and great enthusiasm.

In the beginning of May 1888, Vincent rented the four rooms of the “Yellow House” at 2 Place Lamartine. In September, Vincent painted “Yellow House.” Vincent used two complementary primary colors in the painting, blue for the sky and yellow for what is on the ground, to make the whole painting more vibrant. Yellow gradually became a symbolic color for Vincent, and he used it increasingly from the Arles period onward. The yellow house was a symbol of the aspiration that he looked forward to fulfilling.

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