Vincent Van Gogh

Artist

Born: 30 March 1853
Died: 29 July 1890 (self-inflicted gunshot)
Birthplace: Groot Zundert, Holland
Best known as:

The marvelous painter who cut off his own earlobe

The 19th-century painter Vincent Van Gogh is almost as famous for his mental instability as for his vivid paintings. Van Gogh's artistic style was fresh and astounding, with impressionistic bursts of color, rough brush strokes, and (as time went on) a focus on nature and simple topics like haystacks and sunflowers. His series of brooding and mysterious self-portraits is justly famous. Vincent Van Gogh is closely associated with the town of Arles in the south of France, where he created many of his greatest paintings in the last two years of his life. Among Van Gogh's best-known works are The Potato Eaters (1885), Starry Night (1889), and Irises (1889). His career as an artist lasted only 10 years and coincided with frequent bouts of depression and anguish; in a famous 1888 incident he slashed off his left earlobe with a razor. Vincent Van Gogh died in Auvers, France two days after shooting himself in the chest with a pistol.

Extra credit:

Vincent Van Gogh collected drawings by American cartoonist Thomas Nast... He was played by Kirk Douglas in the 1956 film Lust for Life... Van Gogh had a brief and fiery friendship with painter Paul Gaugin in 1888. A book published in 2009 argues that it was Gaugin who sliced off Van Gogh's ear, and that both men agreed to cover up the truth.

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