Past to Present: Undergrowth with Two Figures

School Arts, January 2004 | Go to article overview

Past to Present: Undergrowth with Two Figures


Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890). The Netherlands (worked in France). Undergrowth with Two Figures, 1890. Oil on canvas, 19 x 39" (49.5 x 99. 7 cm). Bequest of Mary E. Johnston, 1967. 1430.

About the Art

This lush painting was created shortly prior to van Gogh's suicide in July of 1890. It serves as a fine example of the synthesis of the artist's many different influences. The Impressionists' use of juxtaposed brushstrokes is there as well as a Japanese influence in terms of color and composition. Strong violet verticals give structure to the airy, pastel brush marks of the flowers and grasses. Pulling it all together is the raw emotion characteristic of so much of van Gogh's work. It does not, however, seem tortured in any way; rather it is a celebration of all that is beautiful in nature. The painting has a very lyrical quality.

About the Artist

Vincent van Gogh was the epitome of the tortured artist. Clinically insane and emotionally expressive, Vincent, as he signed his canvases, was consumed with the need to pour all of his turbulent inner being out in his art. The child of a minister, van Gogh sought salvation for himself and others through art. …

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