A Time to Learn and Evolve


It is not the language of painters but the language of nature which one should listen to, the feeling for the things themselves, for reality is more important than the feeling for pictures.” —Vincent Van Gogh

Despite a prior dislike and disinterest in formal education’ Vincent decided it was time to receive more formal art instruction. Vincent submitted some of his best works to the Antwerp Academy and he enrolled into a beginner’s class in early 1886. True to his very nature’ Vincent did not fit in. Vincent’s artistic abilities felt very stifled by the narrow and even rigid approach the instructors took when guiding Vincent and other students. Vincent had no idea that the next several years would deeply influence his art’ though he didn’t stay too long in one place’ he would refine his art craft considerably.

After deciding that an Antwerp art education was not for him’ Vincent began to correspond with Theo about Paris’ where Theo was living. Through these letters’ Vincent was trying to convince Theo that he should accompany him in Paris’ though Theo resisted the idea a bit. Once again’ following his heart and being swayed by emotion’ Vincent arrived unannounced in Paris in March of 1886. While Theo knew how volatile Vincent’s personality could be’ Theo had no choice but to take his beloved brother in’ as he was supporting him’ near or far.

Luckily for Vincent’ Theo was an art dealer and through him Vincent would become familiar with many of the innovative artists in Paris at the time. Vincent would spend two years in Paris and much of that time would be spent at the early exhibitions of some of the great Impressionists such as Degas’ Monet’ Pissarro’ Renoir’ Seurat’ and Sisley.

While in Paris’ Vincent began to study with Cormon at his atelier’ where he was also introduced to John Russell’ Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’ and Emile Bernard. The work of these training peers as well as the Impressionists undoubtedly influenced Vincent’ though in spite of it all he somehow managed to keep a style all his own. It seemed the biggest effect of these Impressionists on Vincent was his use of color’ as he began to experiment with color much more from that time forward. It was later that same year that Vincent Van Gogh would meet and befriend Paul Gaugin’ a painter. Gaugin would prove to be a significant part of Van Gogh’s life in the future’ as well. It was safe to say that Vincent Van Gogh learned much about art’ life’ love’ and friendship while in Paris as well as being influenced by some of the most notable artists of all time.

Throughout much of 1887 Vincent Van Gogh continued to befriend Gaugin and other artists. Vincent enjoyed frequenting cafes with other painters and liked to argue about art with them. It was during this time that Vincent really experimented with different styles’ and really took a deeper interest into Japonaiseries and pointillism. Japan had recently opened its ports to outsiders and so the rest of the world was quite taken with everything from Japan. Vincent was not any different than a large portion of the world’ and began collecting things from Japan. He began to collect woodblock prints’ and his paintings during this time definitely took on an influence of both the Impressionists in color and the Japanese in tone. These two years probably had the most impact on Van Gogh’s evolution as an artist than any other time in his life. In Paris he had grown as an artist’ and was ready to take on new things. It’s possible that for the first time in his life’ Van Gogh felt like he had friends’ people that he could truly relate to. Gone was the constant feeling of not being good enough for his father’ and he was close to his keeper Theo so making friends must have really put him at an all time high.
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