Vincent Van Gogh⁣⁣ Self Portrait⁣⁣ 1889⁣⁣ “They say—and I

Vincent Van Gogh⁣⁣ Self Portrait⁣⁣ 1889⁣⁣ “They say—and I

12/29/2021, 11:54:31 PM
Vincent Van Gogh⁣⁣ Self Portrait⁣⁣ 1889⁣⁣ “They say—and I am willing to believe it—that it is difficult to know yourself—but it isn’t easy to paint yourself either.”⁣⁣ -Vincent van Gogh in a letter to his brother Théo, September 1889⁣⁣ “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.⁣⁣ This painting, done at the asylum at St.-Rémy, where Van Gogh had committed himself following a mental breakdown, is among the last self-portraits he made. During his stay he suffered another collapse and remained confined in his room for more than a month, not even venturing into the garden. Once he was able to paint again, this was the first canvas he made, apparently in a single sitting. Van Gogh believed strongly that only work could restore his health. Here, as he had in two earlier self-portraits, he holds the tools that mark his identity as a painter, a palette and brushes, and he wears a painter’s smock. ⁣ The fervor and fragility of Van Gogh’s life are told on this canvas by stark contrasts of color and restless brushstrokes. Heavy lines of paint seem to emanate from his head like a wavering force field, energized by his own intensity. This background sets off the complementary colors of his green-tinged face and orange hair, keying his image to a higher pitch. “I was thin and pale as a ghost,” Van Gogh wrote as he described this portrait to Théo. “It is dark violet blue and the head whitish with yellow hair, so it has a color effect.”⁣⁣ Van Gogh worked on a second self-portrait at about the same time. Although its background is animated with swirling brushstrokes, the more muted color scheme lends the image a calmer aspect. The artist believed, however, that the painting seen here captured his “true character.””⁣⁣ #paintings #painting #artlovers #artists #vincentvangogh #vangogh #selfportrait

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