Vincent Willem van Gogh (Dutch: [ˈvɪnsɛnt ˈʋɪləm vɑn ˈɣɔx]; 30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890) was a Dutch Post-Impressionist painter whose work had a far-reaching influence on 20th-century art. In just over a decade he produced over 2100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings. They include portraits, self portraits, landscapes, still lifes, olive trees, cypresses, wheat fields and sunflowers. Critics largely ignored him until his suicide, aged 37, which followed years of anxiety, poverty and mental illness.
Born to upper middle class parents, Van Gogh was thoughtful and intellectual as a child, and deeply religious and keenly aware of modernist trends in art, music and literature as a young adult. Although he drew as a child he spent years drifting in ill health and solitude, not painting until his late twenties. He spent several years in The Hague, London and Paris. His first major work was 1885's The Potato Eaters, which contains few signs of the vivid colourisation that distinguished his later work. In 1886 he moved to Paris and discovered the French Impressionists. From then his paintings grew brighter in colour as he developed a style that became fully realised during his stay in Arles in 1888.
Today, Van Gogh's vivid colours, emotive subject matter, and the romanticism of his short life have led to his position in the public imagination as the quintessential misunderstood genius. His widespread critical, commercial and popular success began after his adoption by the early 20th-century German Expressionists and Fauves. Despite a popular tendency to romanticise his ill health, art historians see an artist deeply frustrated by the inactivity and incoherence caused by frequent mental sickness. His posthumous reputation grew steadily during the 20th century; today he is remembered and revered as an important but tragic painter.
Except for some brief periods of formal instruction, van Gogh was self-taught; he collected prints and reproductions to study and copy, especially those of Millet. His life and work are legendary in the history of art, making him the quintessential misunderstood, tormented, even insane artist, who sold only one work in his lifetime but whose paintings achieved record auction sales prices after his death. Van Gogh was active as an artist for only ten years, during which time he produced around 1000 watercolors, drawings and sketches and nearly 1250 paintings. His styles included an early dark, Realist style and a later colorful, intense, expressionistic style. Almost more than on his oeuvre, his fame has been based on the extensive, diary-like correspondence he maintained, in particular with his brother, Theo.
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