Classroom Use of the Art Print

Article excerpt

Vincent van Gogh (Dutch; 1853-1890). The Red Vineyard at Aries, 1888. Oil on canvas. The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, Russia.



* Vincent van Gogh was born in Groot-Zundert, the Netherlands, in 1853. His father was a Protestant minister, and Vincent's first career was as an evangelical preacher in a Belgian mining village. At age 27 he decided to devote his life to art. Mostly self-taught by studying and copying artist's works, van Gogh's first drawings and paintings depicted the poor farmers and miners who he had encountered during his brief religious career. His most famous painting from the start of his career, The Potato Eaters, 1885, depicts a small family in a dark, cramped room about to eat a frugal meal. In 1886 he moved to Paris and became part of the avantgarde group of artists working at that time, including Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, Paul Gauguin and Paul Signac.

In 1888 he moved to Arles in the South of France, painting there for 15 months. It was here that he painted perhaps his most famous painting, The Starry Night, 1888. Leaving Arles in 1889, he lived in various towns and villages throughout France. In a state of depression, van Gogh shot himself in the chest in 1890. He died two days later. Not having sold but a few paintings during his short career, his work has become one of the most renowned, respected and valuable of any artist in the history of western art.

* Vincent van Gogh used pure colors to express his inner emotional state or to capture his intense love of nature. He, along with Paul Gauguin and Edvard Munch, greatly influenced the German Expressionists in the 20th century.

* Van Gogh was drawn to many themes during his short artistic career: sunflowers, farmers, harvests, spring blossoming trees, portraits of everyday people who he encountered, starry nights, images of the sun, olives and cypress trees, interiors, and self-portraits.

* Vincent had a close personal and professional relationship with his brother Theo, an art dealer who lived in Paris. Theo supported him by sending money for his basic needs and to purchase art supplies. Vincent wrote Theo hundreds of letters, which described in detail his working process, works in progress, his hope and frustrations, and other personal information that offers the reader a window into the heart and mind of a remarkably gifted artist.

* Web resources on Vincent van Gogh can be found at:,html; 19.html;; www3.van


* Primary. Introduce the words "vineyard" and "harvest" to students. Explain to students that they will be looking at a picture of a painting by Vincent van Gogh, which depicts a group of people gathering grapes in the yellow light of late afternoon. Ask students to describe the picture in their own words. Point to the sun at the top of the picture and explain that the artist made many paintings and drawings that feature the sun. Ask students to describe what the weather might feel like if they could place themselves into the painting.

Point out to students that many of the colors used in the painting are realistic and representative of late fall, but that the artist changed some of the colors to express his feeling about the scene. …