As I research deep into my project, I have indeed realized flaws in my initial inquiry question:
What is the most effective medium for portraying Victor Hugo’s historical fiction, Les Misérables?
Everyone has a different story. He was a brother, a schizophrenic, an epileptic patient, a madman, a dear friend, a depressed roommate, a tender artist, a genius. I have no right to state that he is any of them, for he might perhaps just be another soul striving to live in this world. I do not know. with the research I’ve conducted, I stand closer to an endless road on loving Vincent Willem van Gogh.
“Vincent Van Gogh Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works.” The Art Story, www.theartstory.org/artist-van-gogh-vincent.htm.
This website generally highlights the main contributions of Vincent to modern art and why he was such an important figure, as well as a brief biography of his life. It was a helpful initial resource to set down my eminent choice for van Gogh from the importance of his legacy to our art society today. This article also offered a timeline of his entire life with labels of how long he worked as an artist. This was important to me because I never knew that Vincent started out in the art world so late in life, at the age of 29.
“Stories.” Stories about Vincent, Van Gogh Museum, www.vangoghmuseum.nl/en/stories.
An exceptional combination of primary and secondary resources on significant aspects of Vincent’s life. Using direct evidence from letter exchanges, journals, and quotes, this page explains how a particular factor of his life impacted to his persona and reveals his personality. It features accounts of what people thought of him, and most importantly, what he thought of himself.
“Vincent Van Gogh.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 14 Aug. 2017, www.biography.com/people/vincent-van-gogh-9515695.
A very good detailed summary of van Gogh’s life. Includes short videos of his biography, brief descriptions of his famous works, and his legacy. Most importantly, it has informative facts on his personal life, such as his early education, his family, his time at different parts of Europe, and of course his suicide attempt.
“Vincent Van Gogh Up Close.” Vincent Van Gogh up Close, Google Arts and Culture, 2016, www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/exhibit/UQKy1roGr95tKw.
This was an interesting, zoom-in slideshow with high-quality pictures of his paintings. The page zooms in on meticulous details of the formal properties of a particular painting, Quay with men unloading Sand Barges. It provides an excellent art analysis of the techniques, content, and context in which Vincent created.
Kline, Donald, et al. “Vincent Van Gogh.” Art, Vision & the Disordered Eye, 2002, psych.ucalgary.ca/PACE/VA-Lab/AVDE-Website/vangogh.html.
Written by my Eminent interviewee, this is a page that offered technical insight on the possibility of Vincent van Gogh’s visual disorder. Through evidence observed in his paintings, this website analyzes the potential vision disorder Vincent might’ve possessed as an explanation for his unique art style.
“L’Auberge Ravoux.” Auberge Ravoux à Auvers Sur Oise – Site Officiel, www.maisondevangogh.fr/fr/auberge-ravoux.php.
This website is the official website of the Auberge Ravoux, the inn in which Vincent stayed at for the last days of his life. Unfortunately for people who do not understand French, this website is almost entirely written in French. However, even with my broken French skills I managed to acquire some useful information and pictures about the room he stayed in, and how he felt in his last days.
“The Letters.” The Letters – Vincent Van Gogh Letters, Van Gogh Museum, vangoghletters.org/vg/letters.html.
The absolute essential resource to read if anyone wants to understand Vincent’s life in general. Contains letters to and from Vincent and his brother, sister, friends, mother, sister- in- law. This website not only organizes the letters of Vincent by period, location, and correspondent, but also includes original pictures of letters, original texts, translations, annotations, and paintings corresponding to the letters, if any.
“Vincent Van Gogh.” Google Arts & Culture, Google, www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/entity/%2Fm%2F07_m2.
I highly recommend using Google Arts and Culture for anyone who has an Eminent Person in the field of art, photography, or culture in general. This website will provide a general biography of the select artist, but most importantly it organizes the artist based on their art movement, influences, and mediums. Not only that, it will provide a wide range of pieces created by the artist, either organized by popularity, time, and even colours, with descriptions and additional resources on each piece.
Popova, Maria. “Van Gogh and Mental Illness.” Brain Pickings, 29 Mar. 2017, www.brainpickings.org/2014/06/05/van-gogh-and-mental-illness/.
A deeply contemplative article tracing the beginning and end of Vincent’s mental illness, with lovely connections to contemporary figures who suffered from similar struggles. This article was both recommended by my Eminent Interviewee and Lucas’ sister Iris, and now, I would recommend this article to anyone who is interested in art in general. The website genuinely analyzes quotes from Vincent’s letters with strong evidence and revelation of Vincent’s opinion of himself.
Dr. Steven Zucker and Dr. Beth Harris, “Vincent van Gogh, The Bedroom,” in Smarthistory, November 28, 2015, https://smarthistory.org/vincent-van-gogh-the-bedroom/.
Smarthistory is an art-history intensive website that offers professional art analyses of given paintings based on formal properties, contents of painting, and context in which the painting was created. I found this particular analysis helpful for its thorough descriptions of formal qualities found in this painting. By understanding the techniques used, one can also trace the influences that drove Vincent to paint differently from his contemporaries.
Arnold, W.N. (1988). Vincent van Gogh and the thujone connection. Journal of the American Medical Association, 260, 3042–304.
In this journal, the author thoroughly defines thujone, a chemical found in Vincent’s favourite drink absinthe. This is a very technical hypothesis from a more medical point of view, such as how thujone affects the mind, characteristics of the effects, and other chemicals that could’ve contributed to his condition. The author believes that instead of a mental illness, Vincent’s episodes are instead caused by a metabolic disorder called acute intermittent porphyria.
Blumer, D. (2002). The illness of Vincent van Gogh. American Journal of Psychiatry, 159(4), 519-526.
An article that provides the psychiatric timeline of Vincent’s health, and again, the wide range of diagnosis from initial guesses of Vincent’s physician to predictions of experts around the globe today. It’s a great resource for the development of Vincent’s sickness and why he committed suicide.
Gayford, Martin. The Yellow House. Viking, 2006.
A book that vividly describes the complicated relationship between Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh, and the events that led up to his ear mutilation. The author narrates the relationship with many detailed descriptions of the area and time they lived together. This book also included a map of the yellow house in which Vincent and Gauguin shared.
Gogh-Bonger, Johanna van, and Martin Gayford. A Memoir of Vincent Van Gogh: by Jo Van Gogh-Bonger; with an Introduction by Martin Gayford. Pallas Athene, 2015
Definitely the one of the most authentic resources I used for this project. Jo van Gogh-Bonger was the wife of Theo van Gogh, and much of what we know about Vincent today is thanks to her contribution. It is thanks to her that most of the letters from Vincent to Theo and paintings are preserved. In this book, Jo traces back his origins from the start of the van Gogh family line to his death. As a person who was a close relative of Vincent, her accounts of Vincent is likely one of the best primary information out there.
Bakker, Nienke, et al. On the Verge of Insanity: Van Gogh and His Illness. Mercatorfonds, 2016.
A discussion around the possible diagnosis of Vincent’s mental illness, as the true condition of his health was never confirmed. A nice resource on how the man lived with his illness with detailed observation of Auvers-sur-Oise when he died, enriched by artworks, letters, sketches, and historical documents.
Houseman, John, and Norman Corwin. Lust for Life. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1956.
Recommended by my interviewee, this movie is based on the 1934 novel Lust for Life by Irving Stone on the life of Vincent van Gogh. Kirk Douglas (Vincent van Gogh), brilliantly portrays the forceful passion and struggles he suffered throughout his life. This film was not only informative but also invokes empathy through acting beyond pedantic information
Kobiela, Dorota and Hugh Welchman, directors. Loving Vincent. BREAKTHRU FILMS, 2017.
An absolutely beautiful movie telling the story of Vincent van Gogh one year after his death. Each frame of the movie was hand-painted in the style of Vincent’s original paintings. Not only is it informative about the true cause of his suicide, but the experience of watching his paintings come to life on screen is simply astounding. The movie expresses the different opinions of people on Vincent during his life and what they thought was the reason for his suicide. I would highly recommend this movie to anyone.
Kline, Donald. “Vincent Van Gogh.” 8 Nov. 2017.
As a professor emeritus of psychology, Mr. Donald Kline offered many valuable insights on his hypothesis predicting that Vincent van Gogh had Xanthopsia. Because of his expertise in vision disorder, Mr. Kline made many connections to other artists, such as Mary Cassatt, Monet, Rembrandt, etc. to secure his opinion about how vision disorder does not affect the eminence of an artist. He also very generously provided links and articles to many resources on the possible diagnosis of Vincent and biography.
And so it finally ends. Farewell, Eminent.
With a handshake,
gif credit to giphy.com
I would just like to briefly touch upon my learning centre on Night of Notables, so I can share my experience to the world.
For this year’s learning centre, I recreated the famous bedroom of Vincent van Gogh at Arles. I’m sure you’ve all seen this painting:
Here, is my best attempt at recreating the bedroom while adding informative materials on Vincent’s life
One of the main reasons I chose to pick this one setting, of all the places he went, was because of how Vincent saw hope in Arles. For him, it was a place of unshakeable repose.
In short, looking at the painting should rest the mind, or rather, the imagination.
It was both a place of rebirth and despair, for he saw a new beginning to start a gathering studio for artist there; he also had the famous heated argument with Paul Gauguin here on December 23, cutting off his left ear in distraught.
I had his common diet: bread and coffee displayed in the background, as well as coloured prints of a few of his many paintings. The recreation of his sunflowers was labelled “completely Vincent”, because that’s exactly what Gauguin said when van Gogh gifted him with the painting upon Gauguin’s arrival at the studio.
Anyways, I won’t talk too much about something that cannot be better spoken other than by pictures.
At last, it has ended.
Eminent. It has transformed into a story, a story I will cherish within me, a story that will follow me for the rest of my life. It’s a tale that will be retold by all honourable members of TALONS, almost like a coming-of-age ceremony.
Yes, we have stressed about the project so much over the last few week. Yes, it was the source of my anxiety for a long time. But, it’s also been my source of pride ever since it ended. Those who have the courage, the dedication to portraying eminence are in a sense eminent themselves.
The project was extremely successful for me, what was left last year in regret is completed to the fullest possibility this year. The purpose I set for myself this year was to cut deeper into the brief common perception of Vincent van Gogh. I wanted to understand his life beyond the all too famous “Starry Night”. Below are the smaller goals I made for myself.
- To learn about the influences to and from van Gogh: Completed through research
- This was mainly completed through primary resources retained from the letters of Vincent to his brother Theo. However, the Vincent van Gogh museum website also proved an exceptional secondary resource.
- The books I borrowed from the Vancouver Public Library Trip, especially a memoir written by Vincent’s sister- in- law, Jo, provided a wide spectrum of Vincent’s mentors in art.
- The 2017 film Loving Vincent tells the story and the influence of Vincent van Gogh in the community after his death, and different perspectives on his death.
- Explore the personal life of Vincent van Gogh: Completed through research and interview
- Vincente Minneli’s 1956 film Lust for Life was a resourceful biography of Vincent van Gogh’s life behind the paintings: his struggles, his mental illness, his relation with Gauguin, etc. Kirk Douglas did a wonderful job portraying Vincent beyond the single story we commonly believe in, a madman, a genius, tortured artist.
- My interview this year was extremely successful, as my interviewee provided A LOT of information on every part of van Gogh’s life. Since he specialized in the science of vision, Mr. Donald Kline gave me many technical perspectives on his life.
- Study the technical methods of Vincent van Gogh, etc: Completed through creation of learning centre
- Painting of Vincent’s self-portrait: Learning the impasto method, his boldness is using colours, and the turbulence of his brushwork
- Recreating his sunflowers: Working with oil paints (for the first time actually haha). Despite his poverty, Vincent’s painting method was very expensive, putting on thick layers of paint straight out of the tube without solvent.
- Judging from my experience recreating the textures of his flowers, I predict that he used the back of his brush to model and “sculpt” the paint into a desirable texture. Otherwise, I found it difficult to make such thick yet organized flow.
As of the actual Night of the Notables, I challenged myself to do quick portrait studies of those who came to my station, something Vincent would definitely do having lacked money to hire proper models. If Vincent was there, he would’ve absolutely loved Night of the Notables. As the portrayer of his name, I sure did.
The portrait station thing went better than I thought, and many people were in fact surprised about my courage to take on such an ambitious task in under two minutes or so. And of course, they were signed under the name Vincent( if you ever need a Vincent van Gogh signature forgery ;))
And here, I would like to acknowledge my sister, Janelle Feng, for the life drawings of us tens while we were on stage doing our speeches.
The exuberant energy and emotion you feel on stage is such an unshakeable voice. I almost felt like the world was vibrating. I have no regrets whatsoever of my last Night of Notables. It shone just as bright as Vincent’s stars.
Alas, although the energy has left me, the eminence of it remains.
After doing many extensive( though much is still left to be done), I have journeyed to the most glorious part of Eminent: Speeches.
Yes, yes, it seems terrifying to perform a speech in front of so many people, so many faces. But!
Normality is a paved road. It is comfortable to walk. But no flowers grow on it.
– Vincent van Gogh
The moment when you’re on stage, when the spotlight shines just on you, when all the eyes are looking at you, there is tremendous power in the speaker’s hands to convey a message. With my 90 seconds, I would like to show the world what this “nobody”, this non-entity has in his heart.
- Exposition: Writing a letter to Theo (his brother).
- Conflict: Internal. Questioning his most beloved passion and how it’s both doing more harm than good for his loved ones, but also draining him.
- Rising Action:
- His never-successful ‘Studio fo the South’. Explain fighting w/ Gauguin and ear cutting
- Mental illness and attacks
- Theo starting his own art dealership=less money for him. Fear of the uncertainty in the future
- Dr. Gachet reprimanding him for being an artist. Points out that Theo is in poor health because of Vincent.
- Climax: Realize that he is not going anywhere with his art. Pursuing his dream, speaking out for the truth, doing what he loves is a burden to Theo.
- Falling Action: Explains how this is not a sad moment. Vincent felt that this was almost inevitable and he knew for a long time. Believes it’s all for the better. Of course he wants to become recognized, but he felt that he failed as an artist and human. What’s there to be done?
- “In the life of a painter, death may perhaps not be the most difficult thing”
- Resolution: Steals gun from either the innkeeper Arthur Ravoux or the schoolboy Rene
- “I remember the innkeeper/Rene has a gun somewhere.”
- “With the warmest handshake, Theo, your loving Vincent”
- “I risk my life for my work and my sanity is half foundered because of it.”
- “The sadness will last forever.”
Of course, this is just an initial pitching idea. It’s quite likely that I will change a lot of this. Because he’s such an important figure to me, van Gogh’s image feels almost… too unreal for a nobody like me to portray. Nevertheless, Vincent was a nobody too. Well, to sum it up, perhaps it is best to use Mr. van Gogh’s own quote again.
I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart… Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me. I see paintings or drawings in the poorest cottages, in the dirtiest corners. And my mind is driven towards those things with an irresistible momentum.”
- Follow what you love, not your plan. Sometimes the things that you end up loving are the deviations of your original plan.
- The best things about a career are the ones that require the most vigilance and responsibility. What you enjoy the most about a job have the biggest impact on others. Your enjoyment is another person’s need and requirement.
- Take time to reflect and think about your career. If there are changes you wish to see in the field, be that change. Don’t wait for others to make you happy, make yourself happy.
Great things are done by a series of small things brought together
– Vincent van Gogh
As demonstrated by Mr. van Gogh’s own quote, small things string together to create a great image of eminence. This week on Eminent: Interviews.
Since this is my last year in the program, I challenged myself not to interview anyone I know. As I learned from my experience last year, it is better to e-mail people of all careers and levels. I think it is crucial to contact a wide spectrum of experts on van Gogh, ranging from psychiatrists to art historians, in order to understand his life on a deeper level.
Below is the list of people I plan on contacting:
- Van Gogh museum- museum established by van Gogh’s nephew dedicated to the artist.
- Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steve Zucker- Co-founders of the online art history education website Smarthistory
- Dorota Kobiela- co-director of Loving Vincent
- Paul Wolf- Professor of Clinical Pathology at UCSD
- Martin Gayford- Art critic and author of The Yellow House, a book on the relationship of van Gogh and Paul Gauguin
For the e-mails, I’ve made an overall template, but tweaked little details depending on the profession of each interviewee. For a psychiatrist, I would replace the underlined portion into something on how his mental illness affected his life, rather than his art style. Similarly, I would ask how van Gogh’s personal life affected his art, instead of his artistic qualities to his biographer.
My name is Deon Feng and I am a grade 10 student from Vancouver, B.C., Canada. Our class has recently been assigned a project where we conduct an in-depth study of an eminent person of our choice. Being an aspiring artist myself, I chose Vincent Willem van Gogh. I am not only interested in the motivation behind his paintings, but also why he painted so differently from his contemporaries.
Although I have been studying on Vincent van Gogh mostly through internet and book research, such information does not provide a deeper insight on his life. I am emailing to ask for permission to perform a conversational interview with you around the life of Vincent van Gogh and his works.
If you have any questions or concerns about this assignment, you can reach me either by email at _______ or by phone at ____. You may also contact my English teacher, Mr. Morris, by e-mail at ______.
It would be highly appreciated if you could provide some insight on Mr. van Gogh, or direct me towards someone could help me as well.
Again, thank you very much for your time and assistance in helping me complete this assignment. Please respond to this e-mail whenever works for you.
So far, I’ve received one reply from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, but it will be a while before I receive their responses to my interview.
If I receive any new responses, I will update this blog.
The film “2081” is a better narrative in conveying “Harrison Bergeron” due to its ability to include many visual or auditory allusions that are not described in the text. In the movie, Harrison was depicted with long hair, a cross- like handicap, and white clothes. This could be alluding the Jesus Christ, perhaps hinting that Harrison is the “Savior” of the suppressed society. The text, on the other hand, provided very limited descriptions regarding Harrison’s physical appearance other than his handicaps and abnormal height. The director of the film ensured that the graphic freedom given by movies is used to the fullest potential. Another reinforcement of Vonnegut’s message, present only in “2081”, is the use of sound. The sound effects enhance the believability of the narrative while the music dramatizes the atmosphere and further alludes to Kurt’s theme. As discussed in class, the song Hazel was humming is the same song that was playing on the television, which induces us to infer that Hazel does, in fact, possess the ability to remember; it made us wonder whether she really forgot about Harrison or is simply accepting her son’s defeat. Although the original short story by Kurt Vonnegurt Jr. is a clever satirical aggravation towards the notion of equality, such meticulous details cannot be included in words without appearing too obvious and bland. In contrast, “2081” prove to be a more impactful medium in conveying the story of “Harrison Bergeron” due to the indirect reference designs, compared to the stoicism of Kurt Vonnegut’s text.
There has never been an artist who poured so much emotion, so much love into his paintings that he only sold one in his entire life
The sad tale of Vincent Willem van Gogh is not an unpopular one, nor a cheap one—both literally and figuratively. His paintings are some of the most expensive pieces of this era, auctioning an astounding $82, 500, 000 for his Portrait of Dr. Gauchet. Yet his life is the cruellest joke possible of fate: with only one painting sold amongst about 2,100 pieces of art. Vincent Willem van Gogh is amongst the first artists I have known, admiring his work ever since I was three. His room, the Yellow House, and the city of Arles are all familiar places for me.
His brushstrokes are just so powerful yet subtle and organized, I could spend ages just browsing his gallery on Google Arts and Culture. Well, I did.
Shall we bring you closer to the stars? ✨ Browse the album and see how Van Gogh, from a mix of paintings, succeeded in creating a poetic and legendary ‘Starry Night’. Zoom in! Find this artwork at @themuseumofmodernart #vangogh #painting #starrynight #landscape #legend #beautiful #night #google #art #culture #moma
In 1852, Anna Cornelia Carbentus gave birth to Vincent— the stillborn. Exactly one year after, during the March of 1853, Vincent Willem van Gogh was born. Ever since his birth, the artist bore the heavy melancholy of his stillborn brother. He started drawing at a young age, encouraged by his mother. His uncle gave him a job as an art dealer, where Vincent earned more than his father at the age of 20. Some say that those years were perhaps the happiest years of van Gogh’s life. When he transferred to Paris, however, he became deeply frustrated at the overly commercialized art he was forced to sell, to a degree that he told his customers to not purchase anything. He was dismissed a year after. From then on he began his great journey across Europe, drawing and painting his surroundings while he sunk deeper into depression. His diet staples consisted of bread, alcohol, and tobacco. During his final ten years, he created over 1,700 pieces. On the 29 of July in 1890, he ended his life with a self- inflicted wound to the chest.
Again, this is not an unfamiliar tale. But, van Gogh’s style is turning into the commodified art he feared so much as an artist. When Starry Night becomes a pattern on socks or T-shirts you would find at a street store, when others are making money out of his hard work, it is a disrespect to the artist. This project is a stage for me retell the complete story of Vincent Willem van Gogh. Of course, I have no right to claim that I understand his life better than anyone else; nobody does. He’s dead! But Eminent is an opportunity for us to learn about our Notables to the best of our abilities, and so I will.
Now, I do not deny that Vincent and I have a lot of differences. But when I research into female artists, none struck me as much as Vincent. It’s not that there is no good female artist, it’s that there is only one Vincent in the world. And he just happened to be a male. I believe that completing a study on him will have a prominent impact on me despite our differences. Frankly, even if I’m not allowed to conduct my Eminent Project on Vincent, I will still research into him in my own time. The project is an excellent way, however, for me to declare my passion and interest in the poetic ways of Vincent van Gogh.
Interested in art
Interested in art
Enjoys nature and animals
Enjoys nature and animals
Influenced by western art
Influenced by Japanese woodcuts
Frustration with commodified art
Frustration with commodified art
Upper- middle class
Does not suffer from mental illness
When I went on the library field trip to Vancouver Public Library, I had Harper Lee and Artemisia Gentileschi on my mind as back-ups. Gentileschi was a female renaissance painter noted for her Caravaggio- like style of painting. However, I discovered that we also shared many differences, if not more than those of van Gogh. She was the only daughter of a painter family, caucasian, white, and a Baroque style painter; frankly, I am more interested in the post-impressionist movement that naturalistic styles. She was raped at a young age and the incident greatly influenced her artistic identity. I am privileged and lucky enough to claim that I have never experienced such trauma in my life.
As for the case with Harper Lee… When I walked out the library with three books on Harper Lee and six books on van Gogh, I discovered that another person wanted to do Harper Lee as their eminent this year. I compared my interest on both and decided that I have a stronger passion for van Gogh.
A key decision factor in my choice is the recent film Loving Vincent, an oil paint animation movie!!! Having done animations as my in- depth last year, I was tremendously shocked at the release of the film.
My aim for this project obviously involves learning more about the misunderstood genius, but also it includes discovering more about the influences on and from van Gogh. I also wish to peak into the personal life of this man, for it provides me with great insight on the life of an artist. Well, I also want to pick up on his unique art style, one of the greatest things I admire about this man. Through our shared love for pure art and detest in commodified art, I also hope to discover more about myself in relative to this eminent person: my future life, my journey as an artist, etc.
Let us begin the path to loving Vincent.