Quotes by Vincent van Gogh
Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by Vincent Van Gogh. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.
Wikipedia Summary for Vincent van Gogh
Vincent Willem van Gogh (Dutch: [ˈvɪnsənt ˈʋɪləm vɑŋ ˈɣɔx]; 30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890) was a Dutch post-impressionist painter who posthumously became one of the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art. In a decade, he created about 2,100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings, most of which date from the last two years of his life. They include landscapes, still lifes, portraits and self-portraits, and are characterised by bold colours and dramatic, impulsive and expressive brushwork that contributed to the foundations of modern art. He was not commercially successful, and his suicide at 37 came after years of mental illness, depression and poverty.
Born into an upper-middle-class family, Van Gogh drew as a child and was serious, quiet, and thoughtful. As a young man he worked as an art dealer, often travelling, but became depressed after he was transferred to London. He turned to religion and spent time as a Protestant missionary in southern Belgium. He drifted in ill health and solitude before taking up painting in 1881, having moved back home with his parents. His younger brother Theo supported him financially, and the two kept a long correspondence by letter. His early works, mostly still lifes and depictions of peasant labourers, contain few signs of the vivid colour that distinguished his later work. In 1886, he moved to Paris, where he met members of the avant-garde, including Émile Bernard and Paul Gauguin, who were reacting against the Impressionist sensibility. As his work developed he created a new approach to still lifes and local landscapes. His paintings grew brighter in colour as he developed a style that became fully realised during his stay in Arles in the south of France in 1888. During this period he broadened his subject matter to include series of olive trees, wheat fields and sunflowers.
Van Gogh suffered from psychotic episodes and delusions and though he worried about his mental stability, he often neglected his physical health, did not eat properly and drank heavily. His friendship with Gauguin ended after a confrontation with a razor when, in a rage, he severed part of his own left ear. He spent time in psychiatric hospitals, including a period at Saint-Rémy. After he discharged himself and moved to the Auberge Ravoux in Auvers-sur-Oise near Paris, he came under the care of the homeopathic doctor Paul Gachet. His depression continued, and on 27 July 1890, Van Gogh is believed to have shot himself in the chest with a Lefaucheux revolver. He died from his injuries two days later.
Van Gogh was unsuccessful during his lifetime, and he was considered a madman and a failure. He became famous after his suicide and exists in the public imagination as a misunderstood genius, the artist "where discourses on madness and creativity converge". His reputation began to grow in the early 20th century as elements of his painting style came to be incorporated by the Fauves and German Expressionists. He attained widespread critical, commercial and popular success over the ensuing decades, and he is remembered as an important but tragic painter, whose troubled personality typifies the romantic ideal of the tortured artist. Today, Van Gogh's works are among the world's most expensive paintings to have ever sold, and his legacy is honoured by a museum in his name, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which holds the world's largest collection of his paintings and drawings.
I am not an adventurer by choice but by fate.
I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.
I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart.
I would rather die of passion than of boredom.
The heart of man is very much like the sea, it has its storms, it has its tides and in its depths it has its pearls too.
Love is eternal, the aspect may change, but not the essence.
Love is eternal -- the aspect may change, but not the essence. There is the same difference in a person before and after he is in love as there is in an unlighted lamp and one that is burning. The lamp was there and was a good lamp, but now it is shedding light too, and that is its real function. And love makes one calmer about many things, and that way, one is more fit for one's work.
It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.
For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.
I think that I see something deeper, more infinite, more eternal than the ocean in the expression of the eyes of a little baby when it wakes in the morning and coos or laughs because it sees the sun shining on its cradle.
If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.
What a splendid thing watercolor is to express atmosphere and distance, so that the figure is surrounded by air and can breathe in it.
Let's not forget that the little emotions are the great captains of our lives and we obey them without realizing it.
And when I read, and really I do not read so much, only a few authors, -- a few men that I discovered by accident -- I do this because they look at things in a broader, milder and more affectionate way than I do, and because they know life better, so that I can learn from them.
Many painters are afraid of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the truly passionate painter who dares-and who has once broken the spell of 'you can't.'
I believe that one thinks much more soundly if the thoughts arise from direct contact with things, than if one looks at things with the aim of finding this or that in them.
It was Richepin who said somewhere, 'The love of art means loss of real love'... True, but on the other hand, real love makes you disgusted with art.
Painting it was hard graft. There are one and a half large tubes of white in the ground -- yet that ground is very dark.
I am unable to describe exactly what is the matter with me; now and then there are horrible fits of anxiety, apparently without cause, or otherwise a feeling of emptiness and fatigue in the head.
In the end we shall have had enough of cynicism, skepticism and humbug, and we shall want to live more musically.
The canvas has an idiotic stare and mesmerises some painters so much that they turn into idiots themselves.
What is drawing? It is working oneself through an invisible iron wall that seems to stand between what one feels and what one can do.
I know for sure that I have an instinct for color, and that it will come to me more and more, that painting is in the very marrow of my bones.
One begins by plaguing oneself to no purpose in order to be true to nature, and one concludes by working quietly from one's own palette alone, and then nature is the result.
When using colors to recreate a general harmony of tones in nature, one loses it by painfully exact imitation. One keeps it by recreating in an equivalent color range, and that may not be exactly, or far from exactly, like the model.
To look at the stars always makes me dream, as simply as I dream over the black dots of a map representing towns and villages. Why, I ask myself, should the shining dots of the sky not be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France?
I lost my job as an art salesman. It was the customer's fault. He wanted to buy the wrong paintings.
Fortunately for me, I know well enough what I want, and am basically utterly indifferent to the criticism that I work to hurriedly. In answer to that, I have done some things even more hurriedly theses last few days.
Painting is like having a bad mistress who spends and spends and it's never enough ... I tell myself that even if a tolerable study comes out of it from time to time, it would have been cheaper to buy it from somebody else.
When I have a model who is quiet and steady and with whom I am acquainted, then I draw repeatedly 'til there is one drawing that is different from the rest, which does not look like an ordinary study, but more typical and with more feeling.
I assure you that there's a lot involved in compositions with figures. ... It's like weaving... you must control and keep an eye on several things at once.
It is with the reading of books the same as with looking at pictures; one must, without doubt, without hesitations, with assurance, admire what is beautiful.
The more ugly, older, more cantankerous, more ill and poorer I become, the more I try to make amends by making my colours more vibrant, more balanced and beaming.
My great longing is to make those very incorrectnesses, those deviations, remodellings, changes in reality, so that they may become, yes, lies if you like -- but truer than the literal truth.
I wanted to make people think of a totally different way of living from that which we, educated people, live. I would absolutely not want anyone to find it beautiful or good without a thought.
Art demands persistent work, work in spite of everything, and continuous observations. By persistent, I mean not only continuous work, but also not giving up your opinion at the bidding of such and such a person.
To express hope by some star, the eagerness of a soul by a sunset radiance. Certainly there is nothing in that of stereoscopic realism, but is it not something that actually exists?
To try to understand the real significance of what the great artists, the serious masters, tell us in their masterpieces, that leads to God; one man wrote or told it in a book; another, in a picture.
I often think of you all, one cannot do what one wants in life. The more you feel attached to a spot, the more ruthlessly you are compelled to leave it, but the memories remain, and one remembers -- as in a looking glass, darkly -- one's absent friends.
It is not only by one's impulses that one achieves greatness, but also by patiently filing away the steel wall that separates what one feels from what one is capable of doing.
Even this artistic life, which we know is not real life, appears to me to be so alive and so vital that it would be a form ingratitude not to be content with it.
I think that I still have it in my heart someday to paint a bookshop with the front yellow and pink in the evening...like a light in the midst of the darkness.
There are colors which cause each other to shine brilliantly, which form a couple which complete each other like man and woman.
When we are working at a difficult task and strive after a good thing, we are fighting a righteous battle, the direct reward of which is that we are kept from much evil.
When we are working at a difficult task and strive after a good thing, we are fighting a righteous battle, the direct reward of which is that we are kept from much evil. As we advance in life it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed.
Often whole days pass without my speaking to anyone, except to ask for diner or coffee. And it has been like that form the beginning.
As you can see, I am immersing myself in color-I've held back from that until now; and I don't regret it.
Cobalt is a divine color and there is nothing as fine for putting an atmosphere round things. Carmine is the red of wine and is warm and lively like wine. The same goes for emerald green too. It's false economy to dispense with them, with those colors. Cadmium as well.
But for one's health as you say, it is very necessary to work in the garden and see the flowers growing.
It astonishes me already when I compare my condition today with what it was a month ago. Before that I knew well enough one could fracture one's legs and arms and recover afterward, but I did not know that you could fracture the brain in your head and recover from that too.
Love a friend, love a wife, something, whatever you like, but one must love with a lofty and serious intimate sympathy, with strength, with intelligence, and one must always try to know deeper, better, and more.
If you end up falling in love with someone, it's because of them. If you end up hating someone, it's because of you.
I am astonished at the high prices paid for works by painters who are dead, prices none of them could expect when they were alive. It is a kind of tulip trade, in which living painters suffer but do not profit.
One should arrive at leading one's conscience to a state of development so that it becomes the voice of a better and higher self, of which the ordinary self is a servant.
Ah! My dear friend painting is to us what the music of Berlioz and Wagner was before us -- a consolatory art for sore hearts! And yet there are only a few like you and me who feel it!
It is only too true that a lot of artists are mentally ill -- it's a life which, to put it mildly, makes one an outsider. I'm all right when I completely immerse myself in work, but I'll always remain half crazy.
If one keeps loving faithfully what is really worth loving, and does not waste one's love on insignificant and unworthy and meaningless things, one will get more light by and by and grow stronger.
Everyone who works with love and with intelligence finds in the very sincerity of his love for nature and art a kind of armor against the opinions of other people.
Ah! Portraiture, portraiture with the thought, the soul of the model in it, that is what I think must come.
Seeing that I am so busily occupied with myself just now, I want to try to paint my self-portrait in writing.
Describing Starry Night: Firmament and planets both disappeared, but the mighty breath which gives life to all things and in which all is bound up remained.
A weaver who has to direct and to interweave a great many little threads has no time to philosophize about it, but rather he is so absorbed in his work that he doesn't think but acts, and he feels how things must go more than he can explain it.
Gauguin says that when sailors have to move a heavy load or raise an anchor, they all sing together to keep them up and give them vim. That's just what artists lack!
I want to paint men and women with that something of the external which the halo used to symbolize, and which we now seek to give by the actual radiance and vibrancy of our colorings.
I must continue to follow the path I take now. If I do nothing, if I study nothing, if I cease searching, then, woe is me, I am lost. That is how I look at it -- keep going, keep going come what may.
I must continue to follow the path I take now. If I do nothing, if I study nothing, if I cease searching, then, woe is me, I am lost. That is how I look at it — keep going, keep going come what may. But what is your final goal, you may ask. That goal will become clearer, will emerge slowly but surely, much as the rough draught turns into a sketch, and the sketch into a painting through the serious work done on it, through the elaboration of the original vague idea and through the consolidation of the first fleeting and passing thought.
I have a firm faith in art, a firm confidence in its being a powerful stream which carries a man to a harbor, though he himself must do his bit too.
If your inner voice is telling you that you can't paint, by all means, hurry up and paint and silence the voice.
I feel the need of relations and friendship, of affection, of friendly intercourse.... I cannot miss these things without feeling, as does any other intelligent man, a void and a deep need.
Spring is the fresh green of young corn and the pink blush of blossoms. Autumn contrasts the yellowed foilage with violet hues. Winter is the white of snow against its black forms ... Summer is the contrast of blues and the golden bronze of the corn.
As we advance in life it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed.
It may be true that there is no God here, but there must be one not far off, and at such a moment one feels His presence; which comes to the same as saying (and I readily give this sincere profession of faith): I believe in God, and that it is His wi.
Those Dutchmen had hardly any imagination or fantasy, but their good taste and their scientific knowledge of composition were enormous.
But after all I find in my work an echo of what struck me. I see that nature has told me something, has spoken to me, and that I have put it down in shorthand. In my shorthand there may be words that cannot be deciphered. There may be mistakes or gap.
Do you know what makes the prison disappear? Every deep, genuine affection. Being friends, being brothers, loving, that is what opens the prison, with supreme power, by some magic force. Without these one stays dead. But whenever affection is revived, there life revives.
I always think photographs abominable, and I don't like to have them around, particularly not those of persons I know and love. Those photographic portraits wither much sooner than we ourselves do, whereas the painted portrait is a thing which is felt, done with love.
The thing has already taken form in my mind before I start it. The first attempts are absolutely unbearable. I say this because I want you to know that if you see something worthwhile in what I am doing, it is not by accident but because of real direction and purpose.
The cure for him would be to take a good long look at some potato plants, which have lately had such a deep and distinctive colour and tone, instead of driving himself mad looking at pieces of yellow satin and gold leather.
There is a sun, a light that for want of another word I can only call yellow, pale sulphur yellow, pale golden citron. How lovely yellow is!
Whoever lives sincerely and encounters much trouble and disappointment without being bowed down is worth more than one who has always sailed before the wind and has only known prosperity.
Suffice it to say that black and white are also colors... for their simultaneous contrast is as striking as that of green and red, for instance.
The uglier, older, meaner, iller, poorer I get, the more I wish to take my revenge by doing brilliant color, well arranged, resplendent.
As long as autumn lasts, I shall not have hands, canvas and colors enough to paint the beautiful things I see.
Let life be beautiful like summer flowers and death be like autumn leaves. Rabindranath Tagore What a simple thing death is, just as simple as the falling of an autumn leaf.
Someone has a great fire in his soul and nobody ever comes to warm themselves at it, and passers-by see nothing but a little smoke at the top of the chimney and then go on their way.
The Mediterranean has the color of mackerel, changeable I mean. You don't always know if it is green or violet, you can't even say it's blue, because the next moment the changing reflection has taken on a tint of rose or gray.
I shouldn't precisely have chosen madness if there had been any choice, but once such a thing has taken hold of you, you can't very well get out of it.
In spite of everything I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing.
If one feels the need of something grand, something infinite, something that makes one feel aware of God, one need not go far to find it.
If one feels the need of something grand, something infinite, something that makes one feel aware of God, one need not go far to find it. I think that I see something deeper, more infinite, more eternal than the ocean in the expression of the eyes of a little baby when it wakes in the morning and coos or laughs because it sees the sun shining on its cradle.
And painted portraits have a life of their own that comes from deep in the soul of the painter and where the machine can't go.
I feel a certain calm. There is safety in the midst of danger. What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?
I felt my energy return and that I said to myself, in any event I'll recover from it, I'll pick up my pencil that I put down in my great discouragement and I'll get back to drawing, and from then on, it seems to me, everything has changed for me.
No blue without yellow and without orange, and if you do blue, then do yellow and orange as well, surely.
If I succeed in putting some warmth and love into the work, then it will find friends. Carrying on working is the.
But on the road that I'm on I must continue; if I do nothing, if I don't study, if I don't keep on trying, then I'm lost, then woe betide me. That's how I see this, to keep on, keep on, that's what's needed.
There is but one Paris and however hard living may be here, and if it became worse and harder even--the French air clears up the brain and does good--a world of good.
Just dash something down if you see a blank canvas staring at you with a certain imbecility. You do not know how paralyzing it is, that staring of a blank canvas which says to the painter: you don't know anything.
A great fire burns within me, but no one stops to warm themselves at it, and passers-by only see a wisp of smoke.
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