Classroom Use of the Art Print

By Hubbard, Guy | Arts & Activities, September 2004 | Go to article overview

Classroom Use of the Art Print


Hubbard, Guy, Arts & Activities


Vincent Willem van Gogh (1853-1890). Self-Portrait in a Straw Hat, 1887. Oil on canvas, mounted on wood panel; 13 1/2" x 10 1/2". City of Detroit Purchase. Photograph [c]1990 The Detroit Institute of Arts.

THINGS TO LEARN

* Although Vincent van Gogh was born in Holland (The Netherlands), most of his best-known paintings were produced in France.

* Vincent believed that only through painting would he be able to express the deep feelings that were inside him. However, he continued to be a failure in the eyes of other people until after his death when his genius was recognized. Van Gogh's art is now very well known and has influenced many other artists over the last 100 years.

* During his very short career of 10 years as an artist, 1,700 of van Gogh's artworks were saved. These include 900 drawings and 800 paintings. Many others were lost or destroyed because no one valued his work while he was alive. Van Gogh's paintings now sell for millions of dollars.

* Most of what we know about van Gogh comes from the more than 1,000 letters he wrote to his younger brother, Theo. Sometimes he wrote several letters a day. Theo also provided Vincent with money so he could continue with his painting.

* Van Gogh's early pictures were painted with dark colors but later, after he went to France, he discovered the most creative artists were using very bright colors. Because of this, he changed his choice of colors to much brighter ones. This change enabled him to paint much better pictures.

* Most of van Gogh's paintings express deep feelings more than realism. It is a kind of art that came to be called Expressionism, where the artist focuses more on the feelings to be shown than what objects actually look like.

Expressionism became very important in the years following the death of van Gogh and continues to the present time in the work of numbers of artists.

* In order to fully understand Vincent van Gogh's art, students should become familiar with his earlier paintings which are very somber and dark. He painted them while still living in The Netherlands and before he went to Paris. When people first see these paintings they are usually shocked at the difference between them and the more colorful paintings that followed. Even at this early stage in his career, however, he used thick impasto paint.

THINGS TO DO

* The work of Vincent van Gogh has now become very popular. It is often reproduced in books on art as well as for pictures to go in people's homes. A number of these paintings are self-portraits.

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