Post-Impressionist Vincent Van Gogh was an inspiring artist, whose unique techniques and styles captured the attention of many artists and critics. Van Gogh’s emotions and surroundings was what interpreted his paintings. When it comes to the topic of Van Gogh’s artistic approach, each of his pieces displayed a brilliant use of color along with molding color and harmony with applying the elements and principles of art. While developing his techniques, Van Gogh was inspired by many artists such as Anton Mauve and Jean Francois Millet, adopting and changing his perspective into his style for his paintings. Other contemporary artists were inspired by Van Gogh, such as Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso producing an individual style, relating to different art movements. The discussion of Vincent Van Gogh explains the significance of his style in art, a brief, synopsis, of his medium used in the composition of Starry Night; along with discussing its meaning. What will mainly be discussed are the influences on Van Gogh and how his influence attracted other contemporary artists.
Post Impressionism focused on structure, form, and establishing the atmospheric mood in surroundings. While it is true that the natural Impressionist uses color, Van Gogh insists that as a Post-Impressionist, it is more freely expressed. Vincent Van Gogh showed his talent and passion for art in his paintings; however his establishment of a painting begins with applying the basic principles of art. Writing the article Vincent Van Gogh Drawings, Gelber explains about how Van Gogh practices drawing sketches and brainstorming before producing a painting. “Formally speaking, the late drawings reveal that Van Gogh’s understanding of linear perspective allowed him to squeeze as much emotionally as possible out of each composition. He uses a variety of circles, curved lines, straight lines, and even dots.” Religion, in particular, was his central focus in some of his artwork. The following quote by Sweetman gives a brief explanation on Van Gogh’s religious background in relation to his artwork.
“Of course, the deep spiritual hunger that animated his search for God did not disappear; it was translated into paintings. The dazzling light that fills his canvases pulsates with moral radiance intimations that some divine pattern might be discerned in the seemly random designs of nature.” Sweetman demonstrates the example of Van Gogh’s influence of religion. The quote tells that Van Gogh immerses himself into a state of unconsciousness while expressing great detail in his compositions. The spiritual connection between himself and God was the central focus of his pieces. Vincent Van Gogh established his motive as a perfectionist, especially towards his artwork. Van Gogh was inspired to paint directly from raw emotions. The colors he used and the style he established encouraged himself to be more devoted to art. Van Gogh’s other motive was emphasizing the style of the Impressionists.
However, his techniques included thick paint and coarse brushstrokes. As a Post-Impressionist, his strokes were more free and painted realistically in his own style. The style also maintains the natural effect while applying the Impressionistic format and combination of unnatural colors. The following quote of the Vincent Van Gogh Gallery explains his use of painting and technique. “There are two ways of thinking about a painting, how not to do it and how to do it; how to do it-with much drawing and little color; and how not to do it- with much color and little drawing.” In other words, Van Gogh’s painting and drawing process took time in establishing a strong composition. He also believed that drawing is the source and beginning of painting, and that drawing was important to have before beginning to paint. Through drawing, in his case, an individual style is established.
In recent discussions of Van Gogh’s artwork, a controversial issue has been questioned whether Starry Night is only a landscape composition or if there is a meaning behind this famous piece. On one hand, the piece displays visual power, religious symbolism, and strong hints of spiritual influence. The visual language of Starry Night is an exception in terms of expressive values of color, shape, and thickness and the direction of the brush strokes. To begin, Starry Night uses two main complementary colors of blue and orange. By forming and manipulating the values the overall composition expands through depth and harmony. Boime clarifies his perspective on Starry Night through its composition; he tells about the arrangement of colors and how perspective and depth is applied to the piece. “There is first of all the sight of a night sky teeming with stellar life; the waning moon with its aureole, a network of white, yellow, orange, and blue stars which seem torotate and pulsate and throw out cosmic energy, and a spiraling band turn on itself while running parallel to the horizon.”
The significance of Starry Night draws attention to the viewer. The warm and cool colors of the stars and windows produce an illuminating effect. The large structure gives off and enigmatic appearance as well as the curved repetition of the building that imitates the effect of the sky creating depth and expression. The main characteristic of Van Gogh’s background in Starry Night represents the work of Williams Morris Hunt. He established a charcoal drawing with a church and moon. However, this influenced him to spend countless nights observing the stars. Van Gogh’s captivation of the night was commemorated in various works as a painter. Night was a time for creativity and it brought a feeling of sanctuary and ease. Vincent Van Gogh wrote a letter to his brother Theo, which explains his perspective of the night. “This morning, I saw the country from my window a long time before sunrise, with nothing but the morning star, which looked very big.” Van Gogh was an expressionist who established his compositions based on his own mood of the scene through color and distortion of images. His stylistic approach was not only from practice and experience, but influence as well.
Two artists, Anton Mauve and Jean Francois Millet had and individual skill to their techniques, but how Van Gogh expanded on his own ability. Van Gogh was a pupil to the Dutch artist Anton Mauve. Mauve’s Influence on Van Gogh was his painting technique and a choice of subjects. Mauve gave lessons in oil painting techniques and watercolor; he would also study natural and realistic subjects depending on his mood. Van Gogh was also influenced by Jean-Francois Millet, who grew up in the peasant classification. Millet’s influence of painting was focused on painting farmers and laborers, where Van Gogh learned to understand the value of hard workers. Millet also used a combination of color schemes to add to the mood of his compositions when painting, such as harvests and fields. Millet taught Van Gogh to learn the basics and disciplines in order to learn how to paint.
Millet’s influence allowed Van Gogh to capture the mood and struggle of the lower class. Contemporary artists became influenced through Vincent Van Gogh’s artwork as well. Different artists use various techniques to express or create a feeling which a particular artist is communicating. The development of Post-Impressionism branched off into other movements where artists can recognize the elements of art and synthesize them into the artwork. Pablo Picasso of Cubism and Henri Matisse of Fauvism gained inspiration of an individual style from Van Gogh. Pablo Picasso arose from the Cubist movement which adapted from symbolism and allowed himself to arrange his art in the form of collage. Picasso’s pieces were created in terms of space, movement, and form, where he also learned the process from Van Gogh. Picasso established basic techniques of pointillism and attempting to try various stages. Picasso used shapes in order to establish a method of mood and produce a three dimensional process.
Henri Matisse’s style was Fauvism, which included non-naturalistic colors. Henri Matisse used expressive use of color based on Van Gogh’s mood in his art. He experimented and studied other contemporary artists in order to convey emotionalism and control color. Matisse also followed through the influence of Van Gogh by using expressive contours and displayed vivid colors in distortion of shapes. Vincent Van Gogh’s techniques developed through his artistic practices. He painted and interpreted his emotions into surroundings. Through religion, Van Gogh established Starry Night, a composition which expressed the spirituality of infinite night sky and produce a strong connection between himself and God.
The representation of Starry Night manipulated the values of color, shape, and direction, allowing a feeling of sanctuary. This powerful piece, along with Van Gogh’s other works, influenced him to capture mood and realism of a subject. Contemporary artists became influenced through his artwork and branched off to where his techniques could be synthesized into the artwork. Van Gogh’s method was not only to create art, but to open one’s eyes and view the representation of life.
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