For they could not love you but still your love was true,Vincent Willem van Gogh was a famous post-impressionist artist, famous for his hard life, insanity and vividly colored paintings.His last name is pronounced the Dutch way: "van" is pronounced "fan" (rhymes with "dawn"), and "Gogh" is a soft Southern Dutch guttural G, a short O (as in "log"), and another soft guttural G. As with any Dutch last name, the "van" is spelled without its capital letter when preceded by the first name or initial.Van Gogh was born to a minister and his wife, a Replacement Goldfish to their dead son. After growing up with his brother Theo and going to boarding school, he left his small home in the Netherlands to work at an art dealer. After expressing rage at the thought of art becoming a commodity, he was fired. He fell in love with the landlord's daughter Eugénie Loyer, who rejected him when he finally confessed his feelings. This would start a chain of romantic failures. Van Gogh proposed to his cousin Kee Vos-Stricker, who had no interest in him. Van Gogh held his hand over an open flame, saying he would hold it there until he could change her mind. She absolutely refused him. Van Gogh fell in love with a prostitute named Sien Hoornick; his father did not approve of the marriage. She drowned herself in the river in 1904.Van Gogh fell into depression, but decided to enroll in a school to do something with his life. He befriended Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec there, but because of his problems their friendship fell out. He then moved to Arles, which he described as a disgusting and filthy city. This didn't show in his artwork, as he made some of his most colorful and vibrant pictures of the city there. He found a friend in Paul Gauguin, and waited for him to join him at the yellow house he bought in the country side. He painted paintings for Gauguin and asked after him constantly, which annoyed Gauguin. In a fit of his mental illness he cut off the lobe of his ear in a fight with Gauguin, begging him not to leave. He gave the bit of flesh to a prostitute at a hotel. After increasing tension and a state of angry paranoia and mental illness, he returned home. There 30 townspeople made a petition to get rid of him. He was having paranoid delusions of people trying to poison him. They called him fou roux (the redheaded fool/madman) and had him committed to an asylum.He threw himself into painting at the asylum, making brilliant painting after painting. After he left, he remained reclusive in his yellow house. In 1890 he shot himself in the chest with a revolver in the middle of a field. Unfortunately for him, he survived and had to stay in the hospital another two days, eventually dying of infections from the gunshot wounds.Recent academic research and told on a recent segment of 60 Minutes that Van Gogh might not have shot himself as the tale goes but received his fatal wound as a result of a village boy shooting him by accident, and told the authorities he'd shot himself so the poor kid wouldn't get in trouble.Laconic version? Poor guy. He remains influential and recognizable today, and a subject of many Art Imitates Art situation.Also, he once got into a fight with an invisible alien... Alright, alright, it didn't really happen. Sorry.
And when no hope was left in sight on that starry starry night,
You took your life as lovers often do;
But I could have told you, Vincent,
This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.
—Don McLean, "Vincent"
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