The Van Gogh I Didn’t Know.

22 Jul

Starry night, missing ear, sunflower, red hair, blah, blah, blah…while I love the Gogh-ian classics, I often find that the majesty of the art almost gets lost in the cliche of it all. While reading Little Einsteins: Van Gogh’s World of Colors to a 1.5 year old acquaintance of mine, I was struck by the fact that I am unfamiliar with the greater portion of Van Gogh’s great volume of work.

So, I decided to do some poking around on ze interweb- and I ended up rediscovering an artist I thought I knew. Not only did I find some awesome works of art- I also found some awesome Van Gogh quotes and some interesting tidbits about the life of the man who has become so firmly entrenched in popular culture.

“But I always think that the best way to know God is to love many things.” -VVG

“I experience a period of frightening clarity in those moments when nature is so beautiful. I am no longer sure of myself, and the paintings appear as in a dream.” -VVG

Van Gogh had an older brother who died at birth who was also named Vincent.

“One may have a blazing hearth in one’s soul and yet no one ever came to sit by it. Passers-by see only a wisp of smoke from the chimney and continue on their way.” -VVG

Van Gogh painted “Starry Night” while staying in an insane asylum

In a period of 10 years Van Gogh painted about 900 paintings

“I am always hoping to make a discovery here, to express the feelings of two lovers by a marriage of two complementary colors, their minglings and their oppositions, the mysterious vibrations of kindred tones.” – VVG


88 Responses to “The Van Gogh I Didn’t Know.”

  1. Kate July 22, 2010 at 8:30 am #

    Thank you for this! I don’t claim to know anything about art, but I do love looking at it. Thank you for introducing me to some new pieces by an old favorite. Who knew a pair of shoes could be so expressive!

  2. nmontague July 22, 2010 at 8:30 am #

    Those are beautiful pieces of art. I don’t stop and appreciate Art like I should. Thank you for sharing that and brightening my day.

  3. Lauren Montgomery July 22, 2010 at 8:42 am #

    I think it is interesting how Van Gogh was such a wonderful artist. I believe his disability really helped him prevail! If you didn’t know, he had epilepsy!

    • pakitongkitong127 July 22, 2010 at 12:06 pm #

      ow..i didn’t know it that he had an epilepsy lauren. thanks for the info.

  4. gk68 July 22, 2010 at 8:44 am #

    Nicely arranged. tx!! Doc

  5. Diane July 22, 2010 at 8:45 am #

    Interesting! I happened upon your blog… Green… I too have a curious love for the color green… there was a period in my life when everything was GREEN. It is a soothing color for sure (I’m an art therapist and see it often in this reguard!) however, did you know that green is the color associated with the heart chakra? Diane at

  6. maritstocker July 22, 2010 at 8:49 am #

    love it!

  7. Georgia July 22, 2010 at 8:51 am #

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful blog with the world! Its always wonderful discovering things about someone who you once thought you knew quite a bit about. Its those little surprises that make an experience like yours give readers like us the “warm-fuzzies” and “goosebumps”! :)

  8. Noor July 22, 2010 at 8:52 am #

    It’s funny that when one see’s an artists most famous works, they think that they know the artist. Little to they remember, that there is way more to an artist than just his most famous pieces.
    Great collection, by the way!

  9. yasdr July 22, 2010 at 8:57 am #

    I like Starry night over the Rhone over the other famous starry night. I mean, the other one’s brilliant, no doubt about it. This one’s darker yet more moving since you have to let it sink in. Or, maybe that’s just me.

  10. Kate July 22, 2010 at 9:10 am #

    I felt the same way about Van Gogh until I read “Yellow House,” about his time in Arles with Gaugin – it’s a great read, and you really get an idea of what he was like as a person, how he felt about his art, and other artists. Highly recommend it!

  11. arhendrix July 22, 2010 at 9:14 am #

    I have always loved Van Gogh and enjoyed reading and seeing a few of his paintings that aren’t as popular as, “Starry Night” and so on.

    I used to love trying to re-create his work with paint, but was never able to until I came across pastels. For some reason I could work them the way Van Gogh worked paint.

    But I reply because since I was a child there really hasn’t been another artist that has struck me as painfully beautiful as Van Gogh. His art and his story.

    His enchantment with bright colors always moves me and the twists and turns in his paintings show he was a man scorned.

    Thank you for sharing the odd information, and not just writing another review or post about his normalities.

    The appreciation of art should be the sharing of something new. :)

    • mzoobek July 22, 2010 at 7:58 pm #

      I love the way he talks about color!

  12. 13thsongbird July 22, 2010 at 9:15 am #

    It’s so easy to forget that there are bodies of work and whole lives behind these famous names. I know I never really thought about Van Gogh after the grade school art class when we talked about him, but now I feel the need to look him up and get better acquainted with all those lovely paintings. Thanks for the reminder!

    Also, not quite a forgotten bit of Van Gogh, but something that you might be interested in: there’s a Josh Groban song about Van Gogh called “Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)” that is one of my absolute favorites – it’s beautiful, and I think you’d really like it. :)

  13. Pedí3Deseos July 22, 2010 at 9:20 am #

    Thank you for sharing with us the Van Gogh we don´t know!
    I love Van Gogh but I didn´t know most of the quotes you mention. I wanted to share with you my plinky answer about Van Gogh because I think you might like it. Find it here.

    “Vincent didn´t email Theo. Lucky we”.

    Love, Fernanda

  14. Hatshepsut July 22, 2010 at 9:36 am #

    My private life is devoted to family and Art. Van Gogh and Camille Pizzarro stand alone together as my favorites. Some days–as a retired senior citizen–I watch for several hours, painting after painting roll across my large computer screen in films I have put together of works by artists from the 12th century down through time to works of today. I so enjoyed reading your comments about this wonderful blog.

  15. niconica July 22, 2010 at 9:43 am #

    Awesome! :)

    Cheers, Niconica

  16. midipour July 22, 2010 at 9:45 am #

    Thanks for sharing your comments on his art, I didn’t know he drew starry night in an insane asylum!

  17. EvaRoads July 22, 2010 at 10:03 am #

    Awesome post! I’ve seen a couple of those works in person and was literally stopped in my tracks. Van Gogh is one of those artists where you can happily stare at a single piece for and exorbitant length of time.

    • mzoobek July 22, 2010 at 7:56 pm #


  18. bmj2k July 22, 2010 at 10:37 am #

    Nice post. Until now, all I knew about Van Gogh came from the recent Doctor Who episode “Vincent and the Doctor.” (I assume the show made up the alien they fought.)

  19. scandalousmuffin July 22, 2010 at 10:40 am #

    His last words were “the sadness will last forever” to his brother after he shot himself in the chest and bled to death.

    la tristesse durera toujours

    • mzoobek July 22, 2010 at 7:56 pm #

      How grim! His emotional range- so apparent in his art- was so huge, great beauty has a flipside I suppose…

      • danielle October 27, 2010 at 7:11 am #

        hahahahah love it

  20. zookyshirts July 22, 2010 at 11:15 am #

    Nice post! Thanks for collecting the paintings by Van Gogh and some of his quotes. Those quotes are new to me, and I really like the message of them. Past the stereotypes that you listed in the start of your post, Van Gogh was a deep, thoughtful guy. Makes sense, with all those long walks and painting sessions he did alone… lots of thinking, I bet. Thanks again for sharing what you learned about Van Gogh.

  21. Paul Angelos July 22, 2010 at 11:28 am #

    A very beautiful tribute to a great artist.

  22. Zubair Ali Sahil July 22, 2010 at 11:31 am #

    Very nice Blog

    i like this Thanks for this

  23. pistolpete July 22, 2010 at 11:34 am #

    Some beautiful words and powerful images. Thanks for the post.

  24. forrestblogging July 22, 2010 at 11:51 am #

    Brilliant! Well written, and quite funny. Congrats on making it onto Freshly Pressed.

  25. cherylsart1 - CherylsArt on Zazzle July 22, 2010 at 12:02 pm #

    I loved seeing some Van Gogh paintings I hadn’t seen before, and especially appreciated reading some of his quotes.

  26. agardenfriend July 22, 2010 at 12:05 pm #

    LOVE this post. A favorite of mine, VVG had an ability to view the world with sensuous swirls and stark contrasts. Love the art you chose to represent his work. An additional thought: 900 paintings in 10 years??? WOW.

  27. wendi July 22, 2010 at 12:20 pm #

    Do you watch Doctor Who? A couple of weeks ago they did a show on Van Gogh, it was awesome!

  28. Topaz July 22, 2010 at 12:59 pm #

    very nice…quotes are so true! I learned something new about Van Gogh and always enjoy viewing his work-thank you!!

  29. babaowly July 22, 2010 at 1:05 pm #

    I am often told that I do have some of him in my work hehe..

    I think his color palette and playfulness was one of a kind among all the ‘super-serious-anatomically-correct’ Renaissance painters that every other art seemed to be compared to that certain standard back then. o:)

    O yes, and if you love art, certainly visit my own as I am quite an revolutionary versatile artist. ;)

    “The Owl Artist ‘Frequency'”

  30. Songbird July 22, 2010 at 1:44 pm #

    900 paintings!?!?! I had no idea!!

  31. quantumdevices July 22, 2010 at 1:58 pm #

    This is a great post. I like how quickly you conveyed the information. Too many posts would spend pages on a topic like this, you did a great job just highlighting the cool stuff.

    With your Blog named the way it is, I though that Monet might be a good artist to pick. His cataracts made him start to use a lot more green in his paintings later in life.

    • mzoobek July 22, 2010 at 7:54 pm #

      Thanks! I agree, short and sweet!

      I have a Monet in my banner… the title is after a great Oscar Wilde quote though :)

  32. Riles July 22, 2010 at 3:16 pm #

    It’s nice to see some of his paintings a bit… I actually had to do one of his in pastel in an art class.. the one with the green woman and purple shawl.

    I liked Van Gogh there’s a lot of reasons for why he was how he was. You know he used to be a priest in a small farming community and he got fired for giving away all of his things to the less fortunate… that’s when he really started painting. His mother had taught him about watercolors when he was little, also. He also got syphilis from a lady who he was in love with. They’re pretty sure that he went crazy because of the Mercury that was in his paint. Poor guy.

    Thanks for this post, it’s brought back a lot of that information.
    -Riles… Aka Aspiringtobesomeone

    • Carly July 22, 2010 at 5:15 pm #

      I LOVE THIS! just beautiful

    • mzoobek July 22, 2010 at 7:53 pm #

      Great info there! Really knowing about the man so enriches the art, doesn’t it! I would love to go to Arles and see his world.

      • aspiringtobesomeone July 24, 2010 at 9:48 pm #

        It definitely does… I’m so glad that we learned so many things about his life in my art class.

        First, I want to see one of his paintings in person. Many of my professors say that you’ll never understand the beauty of Van Gogh until seeing his brush strokes.

        Then I’d like to see where he lived his life. He was totally cool… so was his older brother who had financed his entire art career.

  33. jeff freeman July 22, 2010 at 4:04 pm #

    Fabulous. Art is part of our social fabric and there is so much of it in our grand world – much of it not seen by everyone. Then there’s the difference between viewing the original work vs. a reproduction. Vincent has such a story that is of his life, his endoskeleton was, in my opinion of expansive loneliness. His capability to love and his desire to be loved and appreciated steered his brushes along many canvases.

    Another artist I truly enjoy and recommend is John Waterhouse.

    • mzoobek July 22, 2010 at 7:50 pm #

      I love what you said here about his psyche being so much wrapped up in the interplay between the sense of isolation and the desire to give and receive love.

      I’ll have to look up Waterhouse!

      • Jeff Freeman July 23, 2010 at 4:45 pm #

        I was amazed at how little info was presented through my art history studies at collegfe about Mr. Waterhouse. For me, my first gaze was a set of greeting cards at the art museum in Chicago… oh but I had to rush the library to see what of this man. His paintings represent romance, literature, legend and spirituality but it is his powerful yet refined portraits of female subjects that captured my favor. You owe it to yourself to view the works of this man – John William Waterhouse.

  34. sawurst July 22, 2010 at 4:09 pm #

    Mmm…one of my favorite artists…and you’re right, we get so caught up in the popular story of the man that the very real, vulnerable, and beautiful parts are often forgotten.

    “I experience a period of frightening clarity in those moments when nature is so beautiful. I am no longer sure of myself, and the paintings appear as in a dream.” -VVG

    That applies to my own art so well, thank you for allowing me to discover it through you!

    Also, what is the origin of your blog title? That curious love of green? There’s a lot of juice packed into that little phrase. :)

    • mzoobek July 22, 2010 at 7:48 pm #

      I’m glad you asked about the blog title! It’s an Oscar Wilde quote- “He had that curious love of green- the sign of a subtle artistic temperament”… my favorite color is green and it just struck me! I like the idea of an artistic temperament being ‘subtle’ — I aspire to such a quality!

      • sawurst July 22, 2010 at 7:53 pm #

        Mmm. I like it. Very Good. :)

      • aspiringtobesomeone July 24, 2010 at 9:50 pm #

        That is totally cool. My fav. color is green also… I thought you must’ve just loved it….lol

  35. resourceheaven July 22, 2010 at 4:23 pm #

    awesome post.

  36. gebarr July 22, 2010 at 5:50 pm #

    Van Gogh was a lovely soul. I’m always glad to read of him and enjoy his work.

  37. Hatshpsut July 22, 2010 at 8:27 pm #

    May be of interest to some: I have amassed photo copies of the originals of some 1200 art works, drawing, sketches, doodles and line drawing from childhood by Vincent van Gogh, all locked into my personal films on my computer.
    One significant fact: he sold only one painting during his lifetime. My children and grandchildren have learned much about life, society and especially beauty from these films and van Gogh’s letters and other writings.
    Although he took his own life, one must marvel at his undying enthusiasm and dedication to art for so many years, in spite of his emotional struggles as well as the rejection of his church, art critics, the public, and many of those he loved.

  38. lifeaftereighty July 22, 2010 at 8:32 pm #

    Thank you for a lovely evening with an artist who always speaks directly to my soul.

    It’s the child-like simplicity masking the deepest of responses … a conection for which I am grateful.

    • mzoobek July 22, 2010 at 9:46 pm #

      Happy to oblige and share in the gratitude!

  39. lovestitches July 22, 2010 at 8:57 pm #

    900 paintings? A reminder to those of us who say we’r VVG ‘fans’ to get out and actually see some of his work that didn’t become famous and hugely popular.

  40. Roseywinter July 22, 2010 at 10:12 pm #

    interesting ^^ nice post.

  41. busyok July 22, 2010 at 10:30 pm #


  42. moonbeam mcqueen July 22, 2010 at 10:43 pm #

    Beautiful– thank you!

  43. sarahnsh July 22, 2010 at 10:45 pm #

    I love Van Gogh, especially with the colors of his work and how it looks like it was taken out of a dream and put onto a canvas. Thank you so much for sharing this! Almost every one of these paintings I haven’t seen before, and the quotes are great too. It’s also so interesting (and kinda tragic) that Van Gogh never seemed to sell a single painting until after his death, and he never knew the kind of success he’d have.

    • mzoobek July 23, 2010 at 3:17 pm #

      He only sold one! The irony of it all!

  44. LaboriousLiving July 22, 2010 at 11:11 pm #

    He has always been my favorite. I’ve read the letters he and his brother wrote to each other, and it is nothing short of heart wrenching. Some of the things he said were so utterly tortured, one wonders how he made it as long as he did. A beautiful soul. It gives me goose bumps to think of him…..

  45. annket July 23, 2010 at 12:17 am #

    Those are beautiful pieces of art. Thank You.

  46. work from home July 23, 2010 at 2:12 am #

    nice design of layout in this blog.

  47. nesuferitul July 23, 2010 at 2:19 am #


  48. MIA July 23, 2010 at 3:25 am #

    i never really into van gogh, nor any other painter. but this should change. I am not seeing the real painting yet but my friends said that if you see the real thing with your own eyes, than you never ever can argue, people called those painter as masters.
    in this writing i saw many things that i could learn about lighting . and this is just an electronic device. now i also can understand why people try to steal this paintings just for their private collection. …. i love those pair of shoe the most..

  49. Mark Bensen July 23, 2010 at 6:03 am #

    wonderful arts made by hand.. its clean, its pretty good to see the images it’s good to know the art work because we should be very talented, u are very talented person i feel..

  50. keoughp July 23, 2010 at 6:29 am #

    Van Gogh in my opinion was one of the greatest artist that ever lived. He was one of the primary catalysts (influences) on modern (expressionism) and was not afraid to take risks at a time when risk takers in the art world were scorned and rejected. Make it a point to read “Lust for Life” if you want to learn more about this complex, passionate and incredibly intense man. Thanks for the post! K

  51. Valerie July 23, 2010 at 6:33 am #

    I discovered VVG as a chld of about 13 and instantly fell in love. I read a biography a couple of years later and I was hooked forever. Written 60 years ago, Lust For Life was written by Irving Stone. I must reread it and see if it stands up to a mature consideration rather than a teenage one. They made a movie too with Kirk Douglas as VG. The actor looked very like the artist and made a very creditable job – again I must see it again some time.

    Thanks for making me think about this!

  52. lostbutf0und July 23, 2010 at 6:35 am #

    Wow, I really liked how you inserted his quotes under his paintings. It’s a side of him I wasn’t aware of neither.

    Thank you!

  53. July 23, 2010 at 7:11 am #

    This is awersome, Van Gogh one of my favorite artists

  54. Carebear July 23, 2010 at 7:13 am #

    I love Van Gogh. I took art classes since I was in elementary school, until I finished high school, and we studied Van Gogh many many times. It never fails to stop me in my tracks when I see his paintings. They are truely beautiful. The man knew what he was doing with colors.

  55. alainarkraus July 23, 2010 at 7:43 am #

    I had studied a number of his more famous works in school, but my favorite piece of his (thus far) was one I actually stumbled across at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh titled ‘Wheat Fields after the Rain (The Plain of Auvers)’.

    They’ve got a pic of it in this article –

    It’s just a field but feels like so much more. Also, it’s got a good bit of green in it which you’d probably like ;)

    On a more trivial note, ‘Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)’ is most recently sung by Josh Groban but was actually written by Don McLean as a tribute to Van Gogh in 1971.

  56. arkdesignishida July 23, 2010 at 7:44 am #

    So many hidden works…

  57. flatland July 23, 2010 at 7:46 am #

    have you ever seen a yellow ochre so intense? He is the ultimate cliche, having never sold a painting with a brother who was an art dealer.

  58. JoAnna Federer July 23, 2010 at 7:11 pm #

    Wow. I never thought of how refreshing it could be to look at art with a childlike sense of awe and appreciation. It could really change how see art and the world in general and force you to dig deeper into things that you normally wouldn’t. Really inspiring quotes too..i especially like the first and last one. Really thought provoking. And wow! I had never seen that still life of the shoes before. It really gives a new appreciation for a still life. They are seen as so little in art as boring and emotionless. But i must say i have never seen more character in a pair of shoes before.
    thanks for sharing. :)

  59. work from home July 24, 2010 at 12:07 am #

    I am impressed with your post.

  60. work from home July 24, 2010 at 12:10 am #

    Thanks for the great post.

  61. Ugmahay July 24, 2010 at 12:27 am #

    This post is lovely… I love green. Thanks for sharing a piece of Van Gogh… I think I love his masterpiece.

  62. Artist July 24, 2010 at 11:59 am #

    I love van Goghs art work too. The chosen art pieces are just beautiful. I like his choices of colors. I am painting through synesthesia which makes me see colors when I hear names and numbers. These colors I transform in paintings. Colors are my life.

  63. Sergey Vedernikov July 28, 2010 at 1:34 pm #

    so nice first onece—very nice—–unknown Van GoGh

  64. braonthree August 5, 2010 at 2:38 pm #

    Wow, these are profoundly dramatic and beautiful, and I’ve never seen most of them before either. Thank you for showing them to us.


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