February 6, 2013
ĽAdelaide

38 comments

Vincent ~ How You Suffered for Your Sanity

It is better to be high-spirited even though one makes more mistakes, than to be narrow-minded and all too prudent. Vincent van Gogh

View of Arles by Van Gogh

View of Arles

He painted over 700 paintings in his final 10 years. His greatest work was done in the last 3 years of his life.

Vincent van Gogh's Bedroom in Arles.

Vincent van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles.

Following his last stay at the “Asylum for the Insane”, one of many in which he spent periods of his life, he was released into the care of his doctor for the last few years of his life.
Often in the garden, Vincent painted the flowers we now see in his work

van gogh -irises; painted a year before his death in 1890

Irises

van gogh sunflowers

Twelve Sunflowers

Only one of his paintings sold during his lifetime despite the desperate attempts of his brother Theo and Theo’s wife,
two of the few who stayed loyal to him throughout his life.

Portrait of Theo van Gogh.

Portrait of Theo van Gogh.

Vincent, undeterred by his lack of monetary gain or notoriety, kept painting…

View of Arles with Irises in the Foreground

View of Arles with Irises in the Foreground

Today it is van Gogh and Picasso that hold the record for the highest price paid for a work of art. Vincent van Gogh’s last painting sold in the 1990’s for nearly $100 million.

Vincent van gogh final paintings

Wheat Fields under Clouded Skies

Sadly, one summer day in July, 1890
in the wheat fields of southern France he so often painted,
Vincent van Gogh ended his tumultuous life with a bullet to the heart.
He was 37 years old.
Oddly it was not the bullet that killed him. It passed through, missing his heart and lodged against his spine. However infection followed and he died 29 hours later. It is thought that it was soon after painting “Daubigny Garden”, seen below. Experts believe this painting shows signs of not yet being finished… We will never know.

Daubigny Gardens by van Gogh

Daubigny Gardens

I look at his work today and see things that speak of a gentle wisdom far beyond those years, a perspective on humanity that can only come from deep human suffering.

Vincent van Gogh-At eternity's gate;

At Eternity’s Gate

I am awed by van Gogh’s work, his use of color and line, his passionate vision and determined will to keep painting, how he almost never gave up.
I will always weep when I think of the tremendous mental and emotional anguish that brought about the end of his life despite his desire to live.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec Portrait-vanGogh in pastels

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec Portrait-vanGogh in pastels

van Gogh-Starry Night over the Rhone River

Starry Night over the Rhone

Had he not suffered from periods of severe mental illness, of mania and psychosis, at a time when there was little treatment available, perhaps he would not have gone that fateful summer’s day.

Wheat Fields with Crows van gogh

Wheat Fields with Crows

His last words as he lay dying from the gun shot wound were,

The sadness shall last forever…

That he might have found a gentler way to be the artist that he was.

Painter on his Way to Work-Vincent van Gogh

Painter on his Way to Work-Vincent van Gogh

If you hear a voice within you say

‘you cannot paint,’

then by all means paint,
and that voice will be silenced.

Vincent van Gogh

van gogh-Red_vineyards

Red Vineyards~ The only painting that sold during Vincent’s lifetime.

~~~

Van Gogh Painting Sunflowers “Van Gogh Painting Sunflowers”
by Paul Gauguin

38 thoughts on “Vincent ~ How You Suffered for Your Sanity

  1. a breath of fresh air, thank you.

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    • this is a small offering that may bring you a small share of peace … i hope your day is brighter than your night… the darkness becomes so heavy…. you are not alone in your suffering. ♥

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  2. Thanks for blogging the story of Van Gogh. What an inspiration he is to us all. I love his work, too, needless to say. Thanks for sharing. Rlte

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  3. Bits of this I knew–most of this, I did not. The artwork, of course, is phenomenal–how one could not love the passion in paint and painter is beyond me. It does make me sad that he wasn’t able to find more joy in his life. He brings it to others in his works–maybe that’s where it went, eh? Out to others, even though he couldn’t grasp it or embrace it for himself?

    I’ll have this song in my head and undoubtedly, now, in my heart today.
    *hugs*

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    • he is a fascinating person, a life of debauchery and transcendence too…all over the map and probably quite out of his mind some of the time. that absinthe is such an evil drink-i am not sure today it is as it was but as it was was so addictive to be criminal to serve to anyone…and it ruined many artists and such…the starbucks of yesterday in a way … can you imagine?

      anyway i have not slept this night, i am having such a problem with insomnia and worried because my heavy metals test came back positive on lead poisoning so now i have to go thru the leaching it out of me somehow … but have the flu and he doesn’t want me there til i am feeling well because there are two strains going around this area and that’s not what i need right now…sigh,sometimes life is like this, when it rains, there’s an earthquake too……….who knows…keep on keeping on..and vertigo, oh i forgot the lovely vertigo…geez that’s partly why ididn’t sleep, i couldn’t lay my head down without the dizziness-everything that is health related is now possibly linked to this new mysterious weird thing nobody knows exactly what to do about…lucky linda…xoxoxoxxo

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      • Lead poisoning?! Egads, makes me wonder how long that’s been laying around in your body, doing what it does. Good grief…when it rains it pours AND the earth shudders, huh? Avoid the sickies commune! Like you need the ‘one more thing’ to contend with. I cannot imagine a spinning world makes it any more comfy. Buy some time and snuggle with the puppy. We’ll keep praying and sending positive, healing thoughts. And we’ll hope! I’m a hopeful kinda gal!

        Gotta tell ya–alcoholics get diagnosed as bipolar on a regular basis, even today. *laughing* Not the most inaccurate description of the behavior/thinking/mood changes that happen, they can look pretty schizophrenic drunk or sober! I can’t imagine consuming mass quanities of absinthe (of any chemical for that matter) would be good for the body, mind or soul. It would seem a common denominator in more than one creative genius–but when you live with something in YOU that you cannot, for the life of you, seem to get OUT–it’s not all that difficult for me to find some understanding about the struggle.

        And I still have the tune rambling around in my brain, tyvm! LOL Not an all bad thing…. I think the lyrics are awesome. And face it–I’ve had much more annoying tunes stuck in that brain of mine!
        😉

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        • dear mel, i started to write a reply to you but am sending it via email instead since i am ending up with too much personal detail so here you go…. weeeeeeee! i love you, lady! yes there are worse tunes prattling on in your head…but no what you mean…hate that so sorry. 🙂 xxx

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  4. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post , Linda ❤I love Van Gogh works and your post is like a album of them❤

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  5. A wonderful tribute to V V. Still a unique and vivid voice.

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  6. Awesome post! Biographies are always enriching! You managed to explain (in a nutshell) Vincent’s life and death. Lovely rendition. 🙂

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  7. Such an inspiring portrait, Linda! I love the works that you chose and the simple, but beautiful way you tell the heart of Van Gogh’s story. This could easily be a book for children (and their adults!)…I can see a whole series like that! (Truly!)

    “Men of whom the world was not worthy,” to borrow the phrase….We used to call these people seers, when we still believed that their “insanity” was the result of an ability to perceive beyond the normal range of human perception. Unfortunately, these perceptions are not always pleasant and rarely comprehended. I wish that I had fewer “filters,” but I wish that Vincent had had more. Still, the world might be a poorer place had he not seen his beautiful visions so fully as he saw his nightmares. As you say, “we will never know….”

    So many of us have heard those voices, from within and from without, telling us we cannot (should not, must not) paint (create, live, be). I myself spent many decades listening, until one day an insistent and imposing Voice spoke to me in a dream and told me that I could. (You would appreciate that in the dream I was attempting to paint something that was both an image and a sound.) When I awoke, a few of my excess perceptual filters had dissipated in the night. I painted, and I continue to paint, silencing the “little v” voice all the time. It’s something I have to do, and I couldn’t explain why, nor do I care. It has to do with who I am. No matter how it comes to us, or in what context, the lesson is the same, the very lesson, as you eloquently show, that Van Gogh left for all of us. To swipe a quote of Whitman’s off a card someone gave me…”Be who you are, and go the whole way.”

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    • thank you for leaving me your thoughts, camilla. as you may or may not know, i am mentally ill so van Gogh as well as many other artists who have suffered trials of the body and /or mind, hold a special place in my heart. seraphine, frida, matisse, the list is really long…but my mind is not 🙂

      van Gogh has always touched my heart and it is because of the way he “sees” and then uses color. some of his things i don’t like at all but that’s just as “good” because it’s still touching me. but his starry night paintings really grab me straight in the heart.

      anyway thank you for seeing through my eyes. i hear you and why you paint. we have to do what we need to complete who we are and some come later than others to the party, so to speak. i really still haven’t figured out what it is i want to do because i truly don’t believe human beans are meant to do one thing their entire lives. we change we grow we learn we de-learn… life is a journey meant to be lived each moment.

      much love to you my friend…sorry to go off so long in this comment. it means much to my heart. xox

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  8. It was Aristotle who said, ‘No great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness’. I’ve never been convinced of Van Gogh’s madness but his devotion to expressing the world as he saw it probably did take him to some spaces that are more visionary than most people would be comfortable seeing for themselves. It’s not surprising he was also deeply religious – just looking at his paintings is like being given a preview of Paradise.

    I’ve read that there’s always been controversy about whether he really did commit suicide. Whatever did happen that day I’m certainly glad that his work and his letters were preserved by his devoted brother.

    Nice post, my friend.
    xoxo

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    • After reading about him for this post, i think he was definitely different, perhaps a bit bipolar – prone to mania and extreme unpredictability so if that’s madness…? i don’t personally think it is but. as for the suicide, i read that too and found that he did shoot himself in the chest but “somehow” he missed his heart? so he walked home but then the bullet became infected and that’s what killed him…sadly. i am not sure if it wasn’t some sort of dramatic act since he was definitely prone to them. a very complex individual. but i love his art either way! 🙂 and that awful absinthe was terrible and seems everyone drank the stuff. i cannot at the moment remember what it was in those days but whatever, it was very toxic and dangerous and he was a drinker. apparently he also may have had syphilis. that might explain everything right there. i think his vision was magnificent tho, how he saw and what he got onto the canvas is amazing to this day. i would love to see some of his work, some of it is very large!

      he was going to be a preacher but something happened and that was that, he never went to church again. i forget what it was. wiki has a lot on him if you want to read more about him. i was mostly into the art with a few words in between! xox

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  9. Oh Linda — this post was beautiful, and such a terrific education for me. I knew some, and of course love van Gogh’s incredible works (Starry Night … in awe of this since young girl)… but the way you told the story here was brilliant — captivating and genius (that you are). To think that only one of his paintings sold in his lifetime… just blows me away… and that so much beauty he created during a time he was in such turmoil inside his soul. I especially wonder how he would fare today with all the awareness and medical treatment for mental illness… Makes us really pause and ponder this life we live here on earth ~ and why some suffer so much more. Truly I have a new appreciation for all of this thanks to your wonderful post today. Blessings from my home away from home ~ still out of sorts and not sure what I will leave here with — how are your joints (balls staying in sockets)?? Breathing improved? I ended up getting portable HEPA air purifiers for my apartment here… it’s helped some… I’m going to get another…. Love and Blessings ~ Robyn

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    • hi robyn,
      how is it going with your treatment? sounds a bit like you are at a cross roads right now. i’m glad to read you got an air purifier, that should help you sleep more soundly if nothing else. thank you for your lovely words here, robyn. i was into showing the paintings i love so didn’t want to mess around writing a lot about them. 🙂 today if he really was “mad” and i am not sure since he drank and was not a well man, they’d put him on some stupid antipsychotic and he’s not paint a thing til he threw them away! or an antidepressant that takes all your emotion away… you can tell how much i like psyche meds i suppose! if i take some of them, certain ones, i cannot even write a simple letter. completely flattens me. isn’t that weird?

      i am fighting the flu and found out i have toxic levels of lead floating around in me for i have no idea how long so now have to get rid of that along with h.pylori infection in my stomach….just cooking right along, robyn! …..NOT! and i cannot sleep at night, it’s so weird. i have always been an insomniac but get 4-5 hours anyway. now, i am up all night long! i am so worn out and cannot really figure out why excepting maybe it’s this light box i am staring at! do take care of you and try not to have many expectations. you will take home much more than you arrived with and be able to use it to help improve your quality of life. 🙂

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      • Hi Linda ~ thank you… I’m up and down and all around here… can’t belive it willl be 2 weeks Monday. Baby steps but I am learning. This is very much about getting in touch with movement on a neuromuscular level… so it’s not really about stregnthening – and more about learning to release muscles that are firing when they should not and turning on the ones that have become inhibited. Sort of trying to reporgram a broken computer. Yesterday was a breakthough day for me …. left my nest for near 8 hours and until night was feeling pretty good… but backlash now of course.

        I agree on the Vincent being put on meds that numb him – I see this all too much in today’s psyche treatments. For an artist – or anyone really it’s a very sad thing. Even when I take the Neurontin I can see how it dulls signals to my brain in every way. I guess that is how it also dulls the pain – but it’s not enough benefit to me to use for pain.

        Oh gosh, I hope your flu is better by now… let me know. Lead – what on earth… is the test really definitive…. there are chleation therapies I think for that. I don’t know I’ve ever been tested for lead and heavy metals. Just had a mercury filling crack last week and saw the silver coming out in my mouth — scary. That was a lovely dental emergency but at least now that filling is white. I have lots of silver still.

        What is with the sleep. Me too… really since began to blog in January 2012 … I have not gotten to bed before 3 am (maybe once 2) … usually 4 or 5 and sleep only a few drugged hours a nigh… I am wondering if it is the computer screen too? I am editing photos and reading/writing so much of my day and night.. Someone did tell me that it has profound effects on the brain. I know one lady who had a seizure disorder and could not use the computer as it was a trigger for her… she would get seizure from looking at it?! We should research this. I also know the typing is wrecking my right shoulder/ribs. No matter how much I try to use perfect posture….. what to do? It’s a large part of my connection to the outside world – as I’m sure you too… would be sad to completey give it up. Should we make the screen darker perhaps? I’m going to try to research this.

        Let me know how you are doing — h pylori is one that responds to antibiotics from what I understand… hope that is an easy fix for you.

        Sending hugs and lots of love. ~ xxoo RL

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        • hi Robyn! it’s good to hear from you again. sounds like things are going well! it would be hard to do but not impossible. I imagine lots of PT? once you’re home anyway? wow, 2 weeks already!

          yes on the lead. I lived near an old dump site for many years and finally EPA says its been leaching into the ground water. they won’t say what tho. anyway my doc has wanted a heavy metals test for years really and since lately, seems I’m getting worse, I agreed. I was floored tho when it came back mid-range for lead. yes, chelation but trouble is that I got crazy using the drug they chelate the bloodstream with. makes me wonder about my poor brain at this point after such a strong reaction. I have to go in before he will give me details… I never like the sounds of that!

          I don’t know with sleep but I am sure having a problem and none of my meds work! very frustrating….typing messes with my ribs, shoulders and pelvis. but without it, I’d be so bored.yes, my life is rather curtailed due to illness so keep trying to figure it out but so far….

          hoping for you good news and all the best as you continue. do you stay indefinitely ? xox linda

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  10. Thanks for all the work you did on this post. Vincent was so under-appreciated in his time….. His style of painting jist didn’t conform to the ideas of the day about beauty and craft – he was so far beyond the comprehension of his critics. I recently heard a radio documentary on popular ideas of ‘sanity’ that explored the seeming connection between ‘mental illness’ and what the general population consider to be ‘normal’. Mediocrity is considered ‘normal’. ‘Other-ness wasn’t, and still is not. Those who achieve excellence seldom fit into that little box. What does that tell us? I’ve often thought your use of colour reminds me of his. Daring, exciting, LIVING colour. No doubt his work has influenced you.

    I was once visiting a friend of a friend on a holiday on the chores of a lake in the Okanagan. They had a gathering on their rooftop patio one evening, where the host brought out his classical guitar to play for us. As we sat quietly sipping local wines, looking out over the lights of the city and the stars, reflected in the still washers of the lake, he played a beautiful rendition of Chet Atkinson’s arrangement of’ Starry, Starry Night’. It was one of those moments that stay with you forever, and I vowed then I would learn the song. Though my instrumental skills are not up to the caliber of that performance, it has become one of my very favorite songs, to sing and accompany myself on the harp with. On a good night, there’s a deep hush over the room as the last chord sounds. Even a song about Vincent can move and inspire us, all these years after he died.

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    • Pls excuse typos….. iPad has this annoying trick of substituting words

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    • hello there gfid,
      how are you tonight? and i have an ipad too and it’s a constant source of slight embarrassment! and it’s also very handy when it does it right. i find on my laptop i forget it’s not going to do it for me and have typos there too now!! 😉 well, there’ s no doubt i am mentally ill. have been my entire life but don’t know any other way to be either. i like me with or without the labels. that’s all they are to me. i am not defined by them any more than i am defined by my hair color. but there are so many small minded fear-filled people out there. they like the boxes, they like to fit them too. van Gogh and others like Dali pops into mind, were themselves, no matter what or who said what to them. they were committed to being themselves before it was “cool” to be who you were. van Gogh had a deplorable life much of the time and so suffered for his illness and the female artists i’ve read about who were mentally ill had it even rougher because they were considered not fit to be out in public if “crazy”… or drunk(meaning-self-medicating) .. it’s sad but we can learn from their history. still being mentally ill…i am not sure if it will ever be a good thing to have an illness of the brain compared to having one of say the heart. strangely so…

      thank you for your kind words that my work somehow reminds you of his. his talent is immense compared to mine but i don’t work very hard at this either. it certainly isn’t how i make a living and if i did, well, who knows what … ? good thing methinks i have alternate source of income!!.

      i’d certainly love to hear your harp and you doing starry starry night. maybe you can post it on your blog sometime? that would be lovely! much love to you, my dear xoxox linda

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  11. He is a man whose story and art have touched me on so many levels since I was a teenager really. Just recently read Irving Stone’s Lust for Life again. Van Gogh brought colour to the world at a time when painting was dark and brown. He was a lonely tormented man, rejected by so many and an outcast in many many ways. I’ve wondered if he had Frontal Lobe Epilepsy as many of his symptoms and behaviours seem to fit with that. Regardless, he didn’t want to end his life in a madness and chose his own way. He painted because he had to, it’s who he was and he struggled to bring to us visions of the richness and abundance of life while his own life seemed so lacking and both. Thank you for this lovely post. One of the highlights of my life was spending a day at the Van Gogh museum in Holland.

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    • hello joss…i saw that lovely loaf today but haven’t been out leaving any comments today. i will over the weekend. you did it via the seed sludge i saw. i’ve tried all those but ended up back with the x. gum. it’s the most reliable. i have to have my bread because i am very thin and if i don’t have it for toast, well, i tend not to eat well. so i’ve perfected my flour mix to what i like and stick to the same recipe that i know works. luckily i don’t have restrictions anymore for eggs and i do use a little milk powder for the smoothness. no potato starch tho, only tapioca and sweet rice, believe or not. 🙂

      glad you liked my post. i too love his work, obviously. i plan to do a post about my favorite artists now and then because there are some i am very passionate about. mostly female but there are some men. i am about the tortured artist i think. 🙂

      need i even mention how jealous i am you found yourself in the museum???? wow that must have been amazing. i can’t even imagine it actually. do you have photos? xoxoxox linda

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  12. I can’t remember if I took photos,but will look. I think I wandered and sat and felt! No worries about leaving comments, you are part of my circle regardless. One of the precious I hold in healing hands of light. Glad you have a bead recipe that works for you,very glad. Take care of you, dear one.

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  13. Linda, an excellent tribute to Vincent….warmest wishes, Robert

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  14. Hi LInda, Very nice post here on Vincent. I love to visit his paintings from time to time. Sorry to hear that you are not doing well. Recover quickly from that flu bug. Maybe now that the lead poisoning has been identified it will be the beginning of better health for you from now on. I wish it for you! : – )

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  15. In the Art Institute of Chicago there is a room with several small Van Gogh paintings, including a self portrait. They have a presence out of proportion to their size, and the sadness of the late portrait can be felt across the room. No one ever handled color and texture like he did. His pen and ink drawings are almost as wondrous as his paintings. He FELT landscapes (and perhaps tasted them). Thank you for sharing this.

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  16. Pingback: Favorite Song: “Vincent” or “Starry, Starry Night” by Don McLean. | Deo Optimo Maximo