The 10 Most Famous Artworks of Van Gogh
From The Bedroom to Starry Night to the Portrait of Dr. Gachet...
From The Bedroom to Starry Night to the Portrait of Dr. Gachet...
You can also read this article in French or in Spanish.
Vincent van Gogh, one of the most well-known post-impressionist artists, for whom color was the chief symbol of expression, was born in Groot-Zundert, Holland on March 30, 1853.
Van Gogh’s finest works were produced in less than three years in a technique that grew more and more impassioned in brush stroke, in symbolic and intense color, in surface tension, and in the movement and vibration of form and line. Van Gogh’s inimitable fusion of form and content is powerful; dramatic, lyrically rhythmic, imaginative, and emotional, for the artist was completely absorbed in the effort to explain either his struggle against madness or his comprehension of the spiritual essence of man and nature.
In spite of his lack of success during his lifetime, van Gogh’s legacy lives on having left a lasting impact on the world of art. Van Gogh is now viewed as one of the most influential artists having helped lay the foundations of modern art.
niood lists the 10 Most Famous Artworks of Vincent Van Gogh:
While he was in Arles, Van Gogh made this painting of his bedroom in the Yellow House. He prepared the room himself with simple furniture and with his own work on the wall. The bright colours were meant to express absolute ‘repose’ or ‘sleep’. Research shows that the strongly contrasting colours we see in the work today are the result of discolouration over the years. The walls and doors, for instance, were originally purple rather than blue. The apparently odd angle of the rear wall, meanwhile, is not a mistake on Van Gogh’s part – the corner really was skewed. The rules of perspective seem not to have been accurately applied throughout the painting, but this was a deliberate choice. Vincent told Theo in a letter that he had deliberately ‘flattened’ the interior and left out the shadows so that his picture would resemble a Japanese print. Van Gogh was very pleased with the painting: ‘When I saw my canvases again after my illness, what seemed to me the best was the bedroom.’
Vincent van Gogh painted Starry Night in 1889 during his stay at the asylum of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Van Gogh lived well in the hospital; he was allowed more freedoms than any of the other patients. If attended, he could leave the hospital grounds; he was allowed to paint, read, and withdraw into his own room. He was even given a studio. While he suffered from the occasional relapse into paranoia and fits – officially he had been diagnosed with epileptic fits – it seemed his mental health was recovering.
Unfortunately, he relapsed. He began to suffer hallucination and have thoughts of suicide as he plunged into depression. Accordingly, there was a tonal shift in his work. He returned to incorporating the darker colors from the beginning of his career and Starry Night is a wonderful example of that shift. Blue dominates the painting, blending hills into the sky. The little village lays at the base in the painting in browns, greys, and blues. Even though each building is clearly outlined in black, the yellow and white of the stars and the moon stand out against the sky, drawing the eyes to the sky. They are the big attention grabber of the painting.
The Portrait of Doctor Gachet is one of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings. It’s notable for a number of reasons. It was painted in the last few months of Vincent’s life and the subject has been the focus of a great deal of controversy. How competent was Doctor Gachet? What did Vincent mean when he wrote to Theo “First of all, he is sicker than I am, I think, or shall we say just as much”
Van Gogh saw the Potato Eaters as a showpiece, for which he deliberately chose a difficult composition to prove he was on his way to becoming a good figure painter. The painting had to depict the harsh reality of country life, so he gave the peasants coarse faces and bony, working hands. He wanted to show in this way that they ‘have tilled the earth themselves with these hands they are putting in the dish … that they have thus honestly earned their food’.
He painted the five figures in earth colours – ‘something like the colour of a really dusty potato, unpeeled of course’. The message of the painting was more important to Van Gogh than correct anatomy or technical perfection. He was very pleased with the result: yet his painting drew considerable criticism because its colours were so dark and the figures full of mistakes. Nowadays, the Potato Eaters is one of Van Gogh’s most famous works.
At Eternity’s Gate is an oil painting by Vincent van Gogh that he made in 1890 in Saint-Rémy de Provence based on an early lithograph. The painting was completed in early May at a time when he was convalescing from a severe relapse in his health and some two months before his death, generally accepted as a suicide.
This painting of a colorful outdoor view is a picturesque work, the vision of a relaxed spectator who enjoys the charm of his surrounding without any moral concern. It recalls Van Gogh’s mood when he wrote that “the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.” The color is more profuse and the eye wanders along the steeped or dove-tailed edges of neighboring areas – irregular shapes fitted to each other like a jigsaw puzzle design. To divide this space for long into a large object and background themes is difficult for the eyes; the distant and nearer parts are alike distinct. The yellow of the cafe plays against the blue-black of the remote street and the violet-blue of the foreground door, and, by a paradox of composition that helps to unify the work, at the strongest point of contrast the awning’s blunt corner nearest to us touches the remote blue sky. Foreshortened lines that thrust into depth, like the lintel of the door, are strictly parallel to lines like the slope of the yellow awning and the roof of the house above, which lie in planes perpendicular to the first. For this roving, unengaged vision the upward dimension is no less important and expressive than the depth.
Vincent van Gogh is instantly recognizable by his reddish hair and beard, his gaunt features, and intense gaze. Van Gogh painted some 36 self-portraits in the space of only ten years. Perhaps only Rembrandt produced more, and his career spanned decades. For many artists, like Rembrandt and Van Gogh, the self-portrait was a critical exploration of personal realization and aesthetic achievement.
Van Gogh painted this still life in the psychiatric hospital in Saint-Rémy. For him, the painting was mainly a study in colour. He set out to achieve a powerful colour contrast. By placing the purple flowers against a yellow background, he made the decorative forms stand out even more strongly. The irises were originally purple. But as the red pigment has faded, they have turned blue. Van Gogh made two paintings of this bouquet. In the other still life, he contrasted purple and pink with green.
In May 1888, Van Gogh rented four rooms in a house on Place Lamartine in Arles (southern France). The green shutters in this painting of the square show where he lived. Shortly after moving into the ‘Yellow House’, he sent Theo a description and sketch of his painting of it: ‘it’s tremendous, these yellow houses in the sunlight and then the incomparable freshness of the blue.’
The work, which Van Gogh himself called ‘The Street’, records the artist’s immediate surroundings: he often ate at the restaurant on the left, and the home of his friend, the postman Joseph Roulin, lay just beyond the second railway bridge. Vincent had finally found a place at the Yellow House where he could not only paint but also have his friends come to stay. His plan was to turn the yellow corner-building into an artists’ house, where like-minded painters could live and work together.
Night Café by Van Gogh was painted in September 1888 while he was living in Arles. Earlier in the year he had moved to a room at the Café de la Gare, where the room depicted in this painting was. Van Gogh stayed there for a few months over the summer while he furnished what would become known as “The Yellow House”, where he would famously live with Gauguin for a brief time.
In the center of the canvas Van Gogh shows a billiards table not being used. We see 3 walls of the room with a door opposite the viewer. The walls are lined with tables and chairs, some occupied by figures, hunched over the tables. Most of the six figures are men, but there is a woman at one table. Standing close to the pool table, leaning on another table is a standing figure wearing white, the owner of the café. On the far wall by the door there is a bar with bottles on top and a vase of flowers in the center. Van Gogh’s exaggerated perspective creates disorienting angles and results with the majority of the painting being filled with the deep yellow floor. The walls are a rich red, contrasting with the yellow floors and yellow lights hanging from the ceiling.