Books, Essay, Non-Fiction, Reviews

The Unknown Van Gogh

Admire as much as you can. Most people do not admire enough.
― Vincent van Gogh

I can’t stop admiring his art work. Sometimes I just want to drown myself in them. Anyone familiar with the drawings and paintings Van Gogh produced will certainly observe that he just not created any beauty with his art work, but the beauty that would give people something to think about. During his short, intense life, one will discover that The Letters of Vincent van Gogh highlight many facets of his personality that are suggested by his work as a visual artist.

These complete letters linked with brief passages of connecting narrative and showing all the pen-and-ink sketches provide both a unique self-portrait and a vivid picture of the contemporary cultural scene. Vincent van Gogh emerges as a complex but captivating personality, struggling with utter integrity to fulfil his artistic destiny. These letters illuminate his constant conflicts as a painter, torn between realism, symbolism and abstraction; between landscape and portraiture; between his desire to outline peasant life and the exciting diversions of the city though his work; between his uncanny versatility as a sketcher and his ideal of the full-scale finished paintings. Vincent van Gogh wrote at length to friends, fellow artists and his family, above all, to his brother Theo, the Parisian art dealer, who was his confidant. 

Source: Wikipedia

Theo van Gogh was the man who saved even the smallest scrap of paper. There were more than 600 letters he received from Vincent and it is possible due to him, that one can get a detailed insight on Vincent van Gogh. These letters are also a proof of the artistic bond that both the brothers shared. Another amazing aspect that these letters manifest is Vincent’s writing eloquence, clarity of thought and ability to describe his art and other artists.

While Vincent developed as an artist, he also learned to express his ideas more concisely and fundamentally with same telling effect that one can find in his sketches and drawings. His description of landscapes, people or situations are fascinating of their drawn comparisons.


Literature was a big part of van Gogh’s life. He, many a times in his letters, reveals his delight and admiration for the works of authors like Hans Christian Anderson, George Eliot, Zola, Charles Dickens, Goethe, and Victor Hugo. His love for written words, he not only shared with his brother but his family too in the early days of him becoming a painter.

Van Gogh’s life did not simply speed towards madness. After a youth full of false starts and disappointments, his decision to become an artist was unconditional. His sense of isolation found an equivalent of becoming a painter even when the madness was the price that he had to pay.

We spent our whole lives in unconscious exercise of the art of expressing our thoughts with the help of words.

― Vincent van Gogh


27 thoughts on “The Unknown Van Gogh”

  1. There are many painters who found inspiration in books. And many writers were influenced by painters. Hemingway cited Cezanne’s as a prime source of inspiration.

    BTW, if you get a chance to see Van Gogh Alive, see it. Digital projectors cover the walls and floors with Van Gogh’s vivid paintings. I loved it.


    1. I think, literature and artistry are closely related through out. There is certain time when a writer fails to be inspired by written words and might be inspired just by glazing a handsome combination of colours on a canvas. In this case, vice-versa is true.

      Yes, I will, if I get a chance. 🙂


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