Van Gogh in Today's Culture

The Legacy of Van Gogh

On the anniversary of his death, we remember Vincent van Gogh and the impact that he has had on the world.  From giving us a wealth of masterpieces like his sunflowers, irises and wheat field paintings, not to mention Starry Night, to shaping the world of art, Van Gogh’s impression is a lasting one.  Little did the artist who only sold one painting during his lifetime know that he would go on to inspire countless other artists, to be immortalized in hit songs and have his life story made into numerous films.  Continuing to create works of great beauty even when it may have seemed that few were interested in seeing them took passion, courage and dedication.  Although often inspired by other painters, Van Gogh was more interested in capturing the world around him as he saw it.  In a letter to his brother Theo from July 21, 1882, Vincent wrote,

“It is not the language of painters but the language of nature which one should listen to…. The feeling for the things themselves, for reality, is more important than the feeling for pictures.”Painter on His Way to Work

In addition to depicting his world in paintings and drawings, yet another reason that so many feel connected to Van Gogh today is in the pictures he painted with words. The hundreds of letters Van Gogh wrote that have been preserved act as a window into the life of an artist and a period in history when art was changing dramatically.  His letters not only catalog the day to day, but are also filled with poignant passages on life.  Knowing his story though his words gives even more meaning to the work that he created, his development as an artist, and who he was as a person.  Vincent van Gogh remains one of the most recognized artists in history and undoubtedly his legacy will continue to inspire generations for years to come.

Letters Source:

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