©2008 NewFoundations

Van Gogh On "Woman"

edited 8/19/11

Despite periodic fits of profound insanity, only a decade of creative work and suicide at age 37, Van Gogh established himself as a painter of world-renown. For Van Gogh his art was his temporary salvation as well as the “lightning rod” of his insanity. Through art he attempted to give order and meaning to life and to serve humanity. “I want [he cried] to paint humanity, humanity, and humanity.”

Intensely pious and idealizing virginal women in his youth, Van Gogh ultimately turned from traditional religion and married a coarse, half-starved, cigar-smoking prostitute who was pregnant with the child of another. This relationship reflected his attitude toward both woman and religion.

He took revenge against the “icy coldness” of Christianity “by worshiping the love which is theologically called ‘sin,’ by respecting a whore and not respecting would-be respectable pious ladies.” As his illness progressed she abandoned him and he died alone, utterly insane.


Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh (l833-1890) -- Dutch post-impressionist painter whose paintings and drawings are among the world’s most admired

One must be good and kind to women, children and the weak. I have a sort of respect for them. I am moved by them.
-- Letter, July 1882

A woman changes when she loves and is loved; when nobody cares for her she loses her spirit and the charm is gone.
-- Letter, July 1882

[Women] are better than we are at patient suffering.
-- Letter, June 22, 1882