Vincent van Gogh is one of the most known names when it comes to art appreciation. Previously I had thought myself to be a fan, I still am, I was just unaware of his story.
After struggling to find his place, Van Gogh's brother offered to take him in and support his art career. It was discussed that van Gogh had an unclassified mental illnesses and it was not until further researching that I came to an hypothesis as to its causation. Apparently van Gogh would paint and dip his paintbrush in his mouth, essentially eating paint. The paint contained lead and there is a correlation between lead poisoning and mental illness. And if I'm not mistaken schizophrenia is included within this. It was also noted that he drank turpentine, which I can only imagine the consequences of that. It is his later works such as, "The Starry Night" (which was painted from the view from his asylum), that receive most credit today. So, one could say, the more he began to "lose it" the more his art began to gain in popularity.
Another piece of art, "The Night Cafe," also gives light to some mental issues. Which I was unaware of this piece but am a big fan. However, apparently van Gogh was not one for cafes and crowds and became very anxious when put into these environments. The lights in the cafe in this painting closely resembles eyes. Being a psychology major I interpret this as paranoia or even symptoms of paranoid schizophrenic. He feels like everybody is watching him and the eyes in lights illuminates that. I also feel that the distortion of the pool table and tilted perspective gives the viewer a feeling of being sucked in. And maybe that is how he felt in these situations, drawn in into an escapable pit of anxiety with everybody is watching his every move and reaction. Genius in a sense of letting the viewer look through his eyes and feel his emotions.
"Classic Artist Tragedy" is in the title because the all to familiar scenario is tragic. Many artists are not fully recognized or appreciated until after they are dead. This is the case with van Gogh for he only sold one painting while alive and now his paintings are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Also the case with Paul Gauguin. However, this tragedy is not only limited to "painting" artists. There are many accounts of literature scenarios and in music. What my generation can most likely relate to is the death of Kurt Cobain. He was the lead in the band Nirvana that gained popularity in the early 1990's. It was not until after he committed suicide that Nirvana and Kurt Cobain received worldwide acknowledgement and recognition. He now is referred to as a musical genius.