Vincent van Gogh: The colour and vitality of his works | National Gallery

Vincent van Gogh: The colour and vitality of his works | National Gallery


Good afternoon. And so for the next half hour or so, we will be focusing up on this. And I was just talking
to one of my colleagues, a minute or two ago,
about this picture, saying it really does,
kind of, burn off the wall, doesn’t it? And you could even believe
that we’ve actually got a light behind it. It’s almost as if it’s back-lit. It’s just so resonant,
and, yes, let’s use the word, dazzling. Now, none of you are waiting for me
to tell you who this is by, are you? Listening to people talking about this,
I have never, ever heard anyone say, “Oh, look, it’s a painting of sunflowers.
I wonder who did that? Whoever it was must have been
very interested in sunflowers.” Because this isn’t sunflowers, is it?
It says ‘Sunflowers’ on the label. Before being a picture of sunflowers,
you all know what it is, it’s a Van Gogh, because that’s what all of these things… They’re recognisable
from, like, half a mile away, aren’t they? In this inimitable manner of painting,
that he invents, that touches people’s hearts. And one thing that I can absolutely
guarantee, at this precise moment, in Amsterdam there will be a big queue
outside the Van Gogh Museum to get in, because there always is. There isn’t another museum
in the world like it, especially another museum
devoted to the art of just one person. Vincent communicates. He communicates to people
who aren’t interested in art, which is a real tribute to the guy. Well, let’s think about Vincent,
first of all, and his biography. His story is so well known,
we can whoosh through it. He’s born in a little town
called Nuenen in the Netherlands. His father is a Protestant pastor. He spent about the first 30 years
of his life failing at everything. He was pretty old when he got started. The earliest painting that we have
by Vincent in our collection comes from
his first serious campaign of work. It’s the one over in the corner there,
the ‘Head of a Peasant Woman’. He was getting on for 30
when he painted that picture, and that’s quite old
to have your artistic career starting. And six or seven years later, he’s gone. So, his career is incredibly short. And I think
it’s as well to remind ourselves how short his working life was, especially when you compare him to
other iconic artists in this collection, like Turner or Michelangelo,
or Rembrandt or Titian, particularly, Vincent is like a meteor. Whoosh, and he’s gone. Now, working in Nuenen,
he’d gone back there, because he’d messed up everything else. He worked briefly as an assistant
in an art dealership, but he got sacked, allegedly because his religious zeal
was upsetting the customers. He becomes, or tries to become,
a schoolmaster. He moves to England for a while, first of all to Ramsgate,
then to Isleworth. I live fairly near a little road
called Van Gogh Close in Isleworth, and whenever I drive past,
I always, kind of, do a little nod. And there’s the house that he lived in
with a blue plaque on it. And, well, it’s an extraordinary story. He had one or two
disastrous, tragicomic love affairs that ended in disaster and failure. He tried to become a preacher, because he did have a real,
almost fundamentalist religious zeal that he inherited
from his Protestant pastor father, and he goes to live amongst the workers of
an area called the Borinage, the miners. This was a very deprived area of Belgium,
and all they did was laugh at him. So, he messed up everything. He goes back to Nuenen,
decided to become a painter. Now, this is the extraordinary thing,
because he’d failed at everything, but reading his letters, and, of course, we know a lot
about Vincent from the letters he wrote, particularly to his brother, Theo,
and letters back, he had absolutely no doubt
that he was a great artist. And his early works met
with bafflement and derision, but it didn’t flummox him at all. He was just completely focused. If they didn’t get it, they didn’t get it.
He knew what he was on about. Now, working with the peasants in Nuenen leads to his great ‘The Potato Eaters’. We won’t talk about that, because we want
to get to Paris as quickly as we can. Because Theo, his brother,
is working for an art dealership in Paris, Theo invites him to come to Paris, too,
and he goes there. And he meets the Impressionists. He meets people like Pissarro. He meets people like Émile Bernard
and Toulouse-Lautrec. Now, Pissarro
is an extraordinary man himself, and he’s one of those artists who would, like, put his arm
around the younger artist, like he did with Gauguin,
like he did with Cézanne. He encourages Vincent. Vincent ups his colour range, because coming from Nuenen,
coming from the Netherlands, where his great hero is Rembrandt, he’s painting brown, earthy pictures. When he sees the Impressionists, he thinks,
“Hey, there’s colour in the world,” and also his life coincides with a time when new pigments are being invented. So, a picture like the ‘Sunflowers’, and,
indeed, the other ones we’ve got here, they are painted
in new, artificial pigments, which, when you do the round
of the National Gallery, through the chronology of it, you will suddenly notice
the colours change. You get to Room 41,
with Delacroix, Courbet, Ingres, and then you move into the next room,
where you’ve got Degas, Manet, Monet, and, suddenly, zing. All of these colours are being invented. They’re a, kind of, by-product
of the Industrial Revolution. And, also, let’s take a moment
to pay homage to John G Rand. John G Rand, without whom… John G Rand
invented the little squeezy tube. So, because of that,
we’ve got paintings like this, and you’ve all got clean teeth! That enabled artists to buy
these new pigments in a portable fashion, and to go outside. And it makes painting
so much more practical. Now, in Paris he meets Gauguin,
and he’s very impressed with Gauguin, but Vincent gets an idea in his head, and that brings me back
to these Japanese visitors standing in front of these pictures. He loves Japanese art. He makes friends with a man
called Père Tanguy. Tanguy is an artist’s colour man. He deals in these new pigments. Vincent befriends him,
paints two portraits of him, and Vincent sees
his vast stock of Japanese prints. Now, let’s think about those for a moment. They were initially coming into Europe, as, basically, wrapping paper
for fine porcelain. They weren’t seen in Japan as high art. They were basically folk art, street art,
mass-produced images of actors, mass-produced images
of beautiful courtesans, mass-produced images of tea houses
and landscapes. And, really, the Impressionist artists
find these things, and think, “Whoa, so different
to the European tradition.” Flat, beautiful colours,
direct zingy compositions, clear and dazzling and beautiful. And Vincent decides that he’s going
to set up a colony of artists in the south of France, inspired by this idea he had in his head that the Japanese artists
lived in colonies, like, halfway up mountains and things,
just making art. Now, where he got this idea from,
whoever knows? But Vincent had this idea
that he would set up a colony of artists in the south of France, and be just like those Japanese artists. Now, he goes on his own, first of all. And, hey, guess what?
No one will go with him. Now, why won’t people go with him? Well, we know what he was like
when he was living with Theo in Paris. I won’t go into specific incidents,
but Theo’s friends stopped visiting him. He wasn’t the easiest of men
to get on with. Theo lived a, kind of,
conventional, middle-class lifestyle, and had friends round for supper, but with Vincent there,
this irascible, short-tempered man, speaking French
with a funny, guttural accent… I think he could pick fights with anyone. And people just stopped going. And I think, also, Vincent realised what
a stress he was putting on his brother, because Theo
had been supporting him financially. This, too, is absolutely fascinating,
because why was Theo supporting Vincent? He started supporting him at the time
he went back to Nuenen, and started painting
the peasant women and the peasant men. Now, two theories. You have to decide. He was supporting Vincent, because he believed passionately
in Vincent’s art. Nobody else did, but Theo could see the potential genius
that he’d got as a brother. Theory two: he supported Vincent
out of brotherly love. That he’d got this lame-duck brother,
who wasn’t going to be doing anything. He’d failed as a preacher,
he’d failed as a school teacher, he’d failed as an art salesman,
he’d failed in love – he’d failed at absolutely anything
that he tried to do. And Theo loves him, he’s his brother,
so Theo supports him financially. But, I think, Vincent in Paris realised
that he was, kind of, getting in the way, and thought it would be good
for the both of them to go down to, if he went down to Arles. So, he goes to Arles,
where he painted this. And Theo, meanwhile,
has a word with Gauguin, saying, “Look, he really loves you,
he loves your work. Will you go and live
with Vincent in Arles?” And Gauguin realises
he owes a debt of gratitude to Theo, because Theo’s
been selling his works, as well, and giving him a little bit of support. And Gauguin, in the end, cracks. He says,
“OK, I’ll go. I love Vincent’s work…” I think Gauguin possibly felt, “Oh,
it might not work.” How sensible is that? But, anyway, Vincent gets terribly excited
at news that Gauguin’s going. And what does he do? He buys up as much yellow paint as he can,
and paints this, and four other pictures
of the same subject. There are, actually,
seven of these that he makes. Three of them are copies. When I say “copies” they are copies
by Vincent of his own work. And his original plan was
to make these sunflowers paintings as a decoration for Gauguin’s room,
when he comes to Arles. And so they’re made
in this sense of excitement, they’re made with this idea that,
“Hey, Gauguin’s going to come, and we’re two artists,
and other artists will come and join us, and we’ll live this fantastic life
just making pictures.” Now, when Gauguin arrives, of course, it all goes wrong, and it culminates
in the… off-with-the-ear story that everyone knows so well. But let’s just rewind
before that, shall we? Gauguin paints pictures like this. Gauguin hasn’t yet gone to the South Seas, to Tahiti and the Marquesas Islands,
where he finishes up. But Gauguin paints from the imagination. Gauguin doesn’t need
to go and sit in a field, and look at everything,
and copy what he’s seeing. Gauguin can sit in his studio,
shut his eyes, and conjure up these things. And the two artists… It’s a different way of working, because Vincent always needed
something in front of him – there. Which is why he goes out
into the landscape. I mean, these pictures here
were done outside. He would pack his easel on his back. This is when he was in the asylum, the famous story,
which we’ll come on to in a minute. But he would go outside,
and work in the open air. Gauguin tried to get Vincent
to work from his imagination, and with Gauguin being
a very dominant, powerful personality, Vincent tries to do this, but he can’t. He needs things in front of him. So, when he’s painting the ‘Sunflowers’, he’s actually got a pot in front of him,
and the flowers. Let’s have a look at it, shall we? Looking at it yesterday, the thing that struck me,
that hadn’t really struck me before, is the spikiness of it. That, particularly in the centre part,
of the picture, the petals, like, have got
this, kind of, metallic sense. A real, kind of,
sharp edge, spiky menacingness. Now, I’m saying that,
of course, with hindsight, because we know
what happened to this artist, and it’s pretty much impossible
for any of us, to look at this picture
without thinking of the story behind it. Now, I don’t believe for a minute,
it’s the story behind Vincent’s life that makes him such a successful
and popular and much-loved artist today, but the story doesn’t get in the way, it helps, in a sense,
us engage with the pictures, and, as it were, meet the personality
who made the picture. But, I think, what people
don’t notice about the picture, and I never noticed this until I’d known
the picture for quite a few years, but most of the sunflowers here are dead. That these are the seedheads, the dry, prickly seedheads,
that the petals have fallen off. And you’ll see this one here
has got just one petal left on it. Now, by the time Vincent
was working in Arles, his religious faith hadn’t lessened,
but it had changed. And he was no longer focused
on the Protestant Christianity, he was much more focused
on a, kind of, universal religion, and a, almost, kind of,
nature worship somehow. Yellow is his favourite colour, because it’s the colour of life,
it’s the colour of sun. And it has a, kind of, symbolic value that, I think, we can say
works in two ways. First of all, we register colour, because of cultural preconceptions. Red equals danger. Stop. Green means go. Yellow means happiness. Blue means, “Oh, I’m sad.” So, these are things that we learn, but also they are innate properties
of the colours – that the colours
have a psychological resonance. And artists following Vincent,
following Gauguin, artists of the next generation, like, for example, Kandinsky, who’s, at the moment,
in the beautiful ‘Delacroix’ show, are using colour,
and thinking about colour for the psychological effect, what you might even call
the emotional effect, that it has on the viewer. And yellow, it’s not a colour
that makes you go, “Oh…” If this was blue,
you’d stand in front of it, like Picasso’s Blue Period pictures, you stand in front of them, and you don’t, kind of,
jump up and down with excitement. But here it energises you. That yellow really gives you a kick,
doesn’t it? Now, Vincent is a Dutchman, and… flowers are so much part
of Dutch cultural memory, Dutch cultural heritage. Later this year…
It’s 2016, isn’t it? Yes? If you’re watching this in the future,
this was filmed in 2016! Right… Later this year,
we are having a show in Room 1 of Dutch 17th-century flower paintings. Or 17th and 18th century. But the golden age of Dutch
flower paintings is the 17th-century. And, of course, flowers
from the time of so-called tulip mania in the late 1620s, early 1630s, are so much part of Dutch culture, and flower painting
is also so much part of Dutch culture. Now, those beautiful flower pieces,
though, are painted in a profoundly
Christian Protestant culture, and they are meant to be understood, meant to be seen and read
as reminders of our own mortality, as things that are beautiful and blooming
one moment, they fade and they die. And the Protestant Calvinist
interpretation of these is that our lives are like the flowers. We prosper, and bloom, and then die. And those pictures
are there to remind you, the prosperous 17th-century
Dutch businessman and burgomaster, that no matter how rich you are,
how much you can afford, where your big townhouse is, one day you are going to die, and it’s, actually, going to be very soon,
don’t you forget it. Now, I’m not saying that Vincent
is consciously making a flower painting in the tradition
of 17th-century flower paintings, but, most certainly,
he’s inherited that subconsciously, so when he sets himself the task of
painting a series of flower paintings… …he’s making memento mori,
as we would say. A reminder of our own mortality. And the fact that we’ve got the flowers
that are dead, and flowers that are dying emphasises that. But hold on. I can see you’re all looking as if you’re
thinking about your own mortality now. There’s no need,
because inside the seedheads – I’ve given it away now, haven’t I? – there are the seeds, and already there’s the germ, the little trigger full of energy
and potential life, waiting to burst into life next spring
with the next generation of sunflowers. So, it’s a, kind of,
cycle-of-life picture, isn’t it? Vincent is a New Age pagan.
Wouldn’t you know?! So, a picture like this
has got both this abstract quality of that extraordinary zing
of the different yellows, but it’s also got in-built, within it, a potential of bursting into life
even more with the hundreds,
if not thousands of little sunflower seeds that are buried away in here. Now, Vincent, of course,
had his breakdown. Our only account for this,
of the ear-chopping episode, is Gauguin. So, you’ve got to ask yourselves,
do you trust it? What Gauguin tells us is that Vincent
was behaving very strangely, and, late at night,
he threatened Gauguin with a razor, and Gauguin ran off. Now, that’s all Gauguin tells us. And what happens next is famously
off comes the ear, or part of his ear, he wraps it up, and takes it to a brothel, and gives it
to one of the girls in the brothel. I mean, I imagine that she changed careers
after getting that! But he was then hospitalised.
He lost a lot of blood. Very, very nearly died. And then he painted
that profound self-portrait, that we’re lucky enough
to have just a few hundred yards away, up the Strand in the Courtauld collection, of him with his bandaged ear, with, behind him, a Japanese print. So… I’ll come back to the Japan idea
in a moment. But he’s nursed back to health
in the hospital, and then the next part of his life… Of course, Theo is terribly concerned, and Gauguin never meets Vincent again. Gauguin runs. Just when his friend needs him most… Gauguin doesn’t
come out of this very well at all. It might even be that Gauguin
is telling this story, “Hey, he attacked me with a razor,” to justify him abandoning his friend. The only person who says Gauguin
got attacked by a razor, a razor-wielding Van Gogh,
is Gauguin himself. Now, Gauguin… I’m conscious that this is
going to be edited, but never mind. Gauguin was not a nice person. Could use lots of other words. A fabulous, wonderful,
extraordinary artist whose work I absolutely love, I don’t think
I’d have liked him very much. Vincent is abandoned, and then… I hear music! Sorry. Vincent is abandoned, and he submits
himself to be a voluntary patient at the asylum in Saint-Rémy, which is where he paints this picture,
that picture. He goes out with a member of staff,
just to make sure he was all right. But backpack on, easel, paints,
and off he goes. Sets himself up in the landscape,
and paints these amazing things. This is in the grounds of the asylum. And the last move he makes is to Auvers, where we have this extraordinary picture, which isn’t finished. It’s fascinating looking at this picture. Well, it is finished,
because Vincent’s died. But there are areas of it,
where you can see, it’s so interesting. where he’s planning out areas, as a work that, I’m sure, had he not died,
he would have gone back to. Now, I’m now going, I hope, to make you well up a little bit, because I’m going to read you a letter
from Émile Bernard to a critic and writer called Aurier,
Albert Aurier. Aurier recognised Vincent’s genius. Was the first writer to actually recognise
what a great artist Vincent was, when Vincent was alive. It’s a myth that he was not recognised. The avant-garde circles
in France and in Belgium had recognised
they’d got someone really special here. But this is the letter from Émile Bernard. Because Bernard
heard of Vincent’s death, and goes running down to Auvers,
which is not so far from Paris, just before the funeral,
and attends the funeral. And this is what Émile Bernard writes… I’ve cut it down,
because it’s a very long letter. “Our dear friend Vincent
died four days ago. I think you will already have guessed
that he killed himself. He went into the fields near Auvers, placed his easel against the haystack,
then shot himself with a revolver. On the walls of the room
where the body lay, all his last canvases were nailed.” And, in fact, it seems
that Émile Bernard and Theo did put all the pictures
around the coffin – and the first great Van Gogh exhibition. It had Vincent in the middle of it,
and all the late canvasses. “Forming something like a halo around him, and making his death,
through the brilliance and genius that shone from the paintings,
even more deplorable. On the coffin were masses of flowers.
Sunflowers. Yellow flowers, which he loved so much. A symbol of that light,
of which he dreamt in hearts, as well as in paintings. Near him, also, his easel,
his folding stool, and his brushes were placed on the floor by the coffin.” Now, that’s installation art, isn’t it? I mean, you can imagine it, can’t you? The dead artist, his brushes,
his stool, his paint box, and then the pictures that he’s just been
making the last few days around it. You can only imagine it, but, wow,
it must have been a sight, mustn’t it? Now, then, the last bit. Dr Gachet… Now, Dr Gachet was someone
who was nursing him in Auvers, who was an amateur artist himself. We know of, the whole lot of people
that were at the funeral that came to pay tribute to him. “Dr Gachet tried to say a few words,
but he wept too much, and could only stammer
a confused farewell. And then we went back. Theo van Gogh
was completely broken by his grief.” And I think that’s absolutely true, because it wasn’t long afterwards
that Theo died, as well, and the two of them
are buried together in Auvers. Now, that’s a wonderful scene,
the coffin with the sunflowers on, and we’re very lucky
to have Émile Bernard’s account of this. But that brought me back
to the Japanese visitors, because he learnt so much from Japan. He loved Japan so much. And one of the copies,
that Vincent made himself, is actually in Japan. It was acquired 20, 30 years, or so, ago, and is in a privately owned
modern art museum in Japan, and that’s very, very appropriate, because Vincent
is an artist who communicates whatever culture you’re from. And, I think,
he would have been touched, delighted to see his picture here with loads of
Japanese people coming every single day, and standing next to this,
probably on a trip of a lifetime, coming halfway round the world,
wanting to come to Europe, and having one of the first things
that they have to do while they’re here, and they can’t go back home
until they’ve done it, is come and see this. So, I find that rather wonderful,
rather touching, really. And the other thing
that I haven’t mentioned in this talk, in connection with Japan, is the crabs. Now, I did a project last year with some post-graduate students
from Wimbledon College of Art, and after their project, I went back
to the college to see their work. And it was a master’s degree, and the students were set the task
of choosing a painting to make what we call a transcription. And this Japanese student had chosen that, because she said,
“Crabs are so much part of our culture.” And I said,
“Show me your work, then, will you?” And she said, “Well, it’s in here.
It’s down on the floor.” And what it consisted of
was a big sheet of green paper, and two crabs walking about. And she said,
“Well, I thought Vincent had done it all. I couldn’t do anything more to it.” And I said, “Well, what are you going
to do with them?” And she looked at me,
as if I was a complete idiot, and just went, “Eat them!” And I just thought, “Vincent, bless you
for doing that picture of crabs.” He did the picture of crabs, because,
again, Japanese woodblock prints, it’s a subject – artists like Hokusai, Hiroshige
have done images of crabs, and so that’s where that is coming from. And Vincent… No, let’s get this right. Japan affects Vincent,
Vincent repays the compliment. Thank you.

100 thoughts on “Vincent van Gogh: The colour and vitality of his works | National Gallery

  1. 27:00 i noticed in the last few years, mainly japanese visitors find it necessary to take selfies with van gogh sun flower painting. imo very sad.

  2. Art itself seems tragic…
    the soul has better things to attend to.
    As Andrew Wyeths model (i think) once said…art is a most selfish occupation.

  3. There is NO evidence to suggest that Gauguin caused the ear injury. Van Gough told the police that he cut the lobe of his own ear off. It is certain that he gave it to a prostitute in a brothel because there were witnesses galore. To say Gauguin was "not a nice person" is based on self righteous prejudice. The speaker, in fact, any sane person, would have high tailed it out of the Yellow House… running for their lives. You don't argue with an open razor pal!
    Some facts: Van Gough had a history of mental instability and self harm. He shot himself in a field. As an art historian, and as a mark of respect to Gauguin's decedents… you should confine yourself to documented facts. To indulge in cheep journalistic conjecture about high profile 19th Century artists does you no credit at all.

  4. thank you for this, well done for the speaker, very informative, clear, and helpful to get the trusted information about vincent, I love vincent so much

  5. Great talk – love van gogh. 19:38 – I feel he is saying that those flower heads he is pointing at are dead…I thought they were double flowered fluffy teddy bear sunflowers. Green centres gave it away to me.

  6. I went yesterday Saturday Apr. 29 and on Thursday. I went to Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam 10 years ago. It is always good to see originals. As teenager I bought a Van Gogh book with printings of his work and bio. When I saw it on Wednesday I noticed this painting is all yellow and orange that is why it shinnes so much. I like more the painting next to this with more colours interacting and moving as a twister. Thanks you for making this videos. It is higly appreciated it.

  7. How can one be a Curator and cannot pronounce the name of the painter. His name isn't "van Go" or "van Goff" but "van Gogh"!

  8. I also admire Gauguin's ability to paint from imagination, but he was a wife beater and sex tourist, and it's very conceivable he attacked Vincent during one of his angry moments.
    Nice lecture, easy to listen to and accessible to all.

  9. fantastic ! wonderfully expressed ! so much to learn from such a well planned and executed presentation. Being a Docent at an Art Museum it has inspired me ! WELL DONE and Thank you

  10. this gentleman has a very plesent manner about him and is easy and interesting to understand. i would like to hear more of his lectures if someone has links to offer, i thank you.

  11. https://blacksheepweekly.com/2018/06/08/standards-of-the-time-an-essay/ I write about Van Gogh and how badly he was judged during his time compared to now. Hope you check it out!

  12. What a brilliant lecture made all the more enjoyable by the knowledge, warmth and humour of the lecturer. He is a treasure.

  13. Enjoyed this very much as i find Vincent fascinating.. But it did cross my mind after listening to the 'meaning' of the Sunflowers painting that maybe just maybe he was just painting some flowers….

  14. …..good job, but, I always cringe whenever the atheist presenter tries to torn Vincent into a "pagan" convert from Christianity. So cognitive dissonance. Vincent's attitude led him from religion aspect of Christianity to conform his heart fully to Christ, which is the rare and true form of Christianity. If anyone picked up his cross daily and died to himself to serve others in love it was him, and no pagan or atheist ideology led him to that.

  15. Thank you so much for sharing this great video. Amazing national gallery. Visit To Know More–https://angel.co/melissastpierregrandblancmichigan

  16. A wonderful lecture full of enthusiasm about a man whose life both fascinates and moves me, what we know and what we think we know seem interchangeable, each lecture, documentary or film I soak up seems to view Vincent from a slightly different angle, I can't help but get emotional when thinking about him.

  17. van Gogh did not give the cut off tip of his ear to 'some girl' in a brothel. He gave it to a mature woman in the brothel…with whom he'd
    had a liaison. She had come to reject him..and his offering was an ironic gesture, imitating a matador handing the ear of a
    tormented to death bull to a woman.

  18. Enjoying it, but I find the "nature-worship" comments to be intellectually dishonest, and perhaps transparent as projection on the part of the lecturer. Who I like, except for this. Van Gogh may very well have been celebrating and worshiping the Creator in the purest Christian sense, which the people who dragged him down during his tenure as a preacher wouldn't allow him to do. "New-age pagan?" Bollocks.

    p.s. for the lecturer. Please keep your wishful thinking out of the classroom. It is not the venue. New-age fundamentalist projection does not a rounded education make. Sin is real, or it is not. Regardless of what ANY of us believe. Ask these questions in an appropriate forum, perhaps in the privacy of your own home, before you presume to teach publicly on the subject. Ask them honestly, and do not project your desires on the answers. Or you will deceive yourself as you are deceiving this classroom. Not good. Thank you.

  19. Such a pleasant and informative lecture with a poised yet witty style of speaking brilliant.I can pass my Art History exam now.

  20. Really enjoyed this video, watched, wow… can't even remember how many times, he is a fantastic story-teller, great work, every time watch it, I can find something fresh, Thanks for sharing!

  21. If you are interested in Vincent van Gogh embroidery, you can visit this link: https://youtu.be/3v9G2DPC0ek

    I was so touched when I've first seen " Sunflowers" , everything is so strong and eye-popping.

  22. I'm learning so much from these presentations , its such a great idea to post on youtube. I wish that more museums would try this. Makes you want to visit so bad.

  23. I think he's reading a little too much into the sunflower painting. He's a really nice guy. And pleasant to listen to. But… I think he's wrong. I don't think there is as much meaning in the sunflowers painting as he thinks there is. I think that Van Gogh is a very "literal" painter. There are no subtleties. What you see is what it is. He saw it, he liked it, he painted it. He went for yellow because he liked how yellow looks. He painted it with broad visible brushstrokes, because that's how he paints. It's just expression. Van Gogh is one of the best examples of expressionist painting. Even though formally he is classified as post-impressionism. There's nothing more to it. It's just, he liked how the sunflowers looked, he felt a certain way that day. And it just came out in the paintings. In the motif, in the brushstrokes, in the palette. I don't think there was a conscious attempt here to create any kind of meaning beyond that. It's just what he liked and how he felt and he is expressing his feelings in the moment. There is no meaning beyond that.

    That doesn't make the sunflower paintings any less valuable. I like all the sunflower paintings by Van Gogh very much. They are among my favorite paintings, not just by Van Gogh, but by any artist. But I see no meaning beyond pure expression of momentary emotion. And I see no problem with that. That doesn't change the fact that I like how the painting looks and how I feel when I look at it. The flowers are pretty, yet they are dry. The painting is cheerful and also very sad at the same time. That's all there is to it 🙂

  24. Great job! Thanks National Gallery for these talks, they are amazing, and a great value for knowledge. Colin Wiggins is perfect!

  25. ‘If you’re watching this in the future’—who could ever think of being so triggered by such a phrase!

  26. 12:22 He SKIPS all the fights and make up sex and pre-gay-marriage divorce between Van Gogh and Gauguin!!! 🍑🍆🙊

  27. i could be wrong but ive noticed throughout art history, the best artistic styles tend to be a blend of 2 cultures.. (van gogh – french & japanese – french impressionism & 1800c japanese woodblock prints) van gogh seemed to have created a beautiful, timeless artistic style, which almost everybody likes.

  28. Another opinion of Van Gogh. Good insight. What if Van Gogh just walked out on the stage of life and played his part and exited?

  29. The value of this work of art is based upon how many people will pay to see it in person. The people who will pay to see it do so in order to try to figure out why in the world it is considered so valuable and great. Otherwise, it is an unimpressive work of art, basically awkward and rather ugly, as is the rest of his work. This is one of the first art scams in history.

  30. His brother Theo saw other impressionist artists getting away with murder, and decided that Vincent could do the same thing, and that they would both make money.

  31. Vincent was born in Zundert, not Nuenen.
    And he was a true artist with lots of misery. Painting was the only thing that helped his soul. In the end he just became insane, probably due to the world's insanity around him.

  32. I thought the sunflowers painting was a fake. Muddy flowers. There is a documentary about this painting. #nofakesplease

  33. 2:03 Born in Zundert, later on moved to Nuenen, of all places. Nuenen, slightly east of Eindhoven, is locally know as the village where people live who "go against the grain", dwars in local Dutch. When our boss took us to Kröller Muller on a business trip a secretary who was born in Nuenen casually remarked: "That one was painted in Nuenen, I recognise it". Our boss, poor man, took it serious and asked her for more info. She said: "Yes, that was Nuenen, it always rains there", hence the depression and lack of colour in his early works.

  34. Theo supported more than just Vincent, he'd slip money to Gaugin often as well as other post impressionists. Theo talked his art dealer boss into representing the avante-gard, too, and planned to open up own gallery when his boss kept refusing to sell these artists.

    So, Vincent was not the only artist helped my Theo. The world owe Theo Van Gogh alot.

  35. Great talk and interpretation on Vincent van Gogh's paintings. Which also gave me a glimpse on Vincent's funeral via reading the letter from Emile Bernard and yes, "Vincent is an artist who communicates whatever culture you are from."

  36. Correction….Van Gogh was not unsuccessful in all his attempts at those occupations,, his pupils were unsuccessful in understanding him…was he a bad teacher?…No…his pupils or people of the time were not ready for him!

  37. You're mispronouncing his name. I'd think that correct pronunciation would be crucial in giving a decent presentation.

  38. If Vincent was listening to this he'd be laughing his head off …. Nice chap, good presentation…. but you have no idea about what's behind the pictures …. only the artists truly know that….

  39. Vincent was shot by one of several young boys bullying him in the field that day. He didn’t kill himself !

  40. He used many shades in his Colors. .2009 Toledo , Ohio his " Fields " show was 5 Stars. .and yeah . .I cried…

  41. A short analytical commentary. First of, you tell the story of Vincent, how disdained he was and how no one would go to his collective with him. You tell of his sunflowers and how he made copies of the paintings, to adorn in Gaugains room when he would arrive. But this is a joke from Vincent to entertain Gaugain. The sunflowers, some dead some shabby, are his peers, the avant garde painters they left in Paris that wouldn't come. He deliberately makes copies, so him and Gaugain can laugh. The other painters are dead or shabby sunflowers, that copy each other. To Vincent him and Gaugain are the only originals, himself with his color obsession, and Gaugain painting from imagination.

    The Ear part: What most likely happened was, that him and Gaugain had a fallout, and Vincent attacks Gaugain with his razer. And then the protestant zealous behaviour from his former years come in to play. As Jesus says, if you eye brings you to fall, cut it out, if your arm brings you to fall, cut it of. Better to go blind into heaven than to be thrown seeing into hell. Gaugain said something to Vincent, that made him attack, thus his ear brought him to fall, and he cuts it of. It is remorse after attacking Gaugain with a weapon.

  42. I could’ve listened to this gentleman talk for another 3 hrs. Very interesting!!! Ty! My favorite art period is the Impressionist period. I hope this art curator (historian?) gives more mini lectures! He’s exceedingly good at it.

  43. Vincent was born in Zundert in the Netherlands, he painted his the very first famous painting named 'ThePotato Eaters' in Nuenen.

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