Your assignment is to prepare and submit a paper on western culture art from the renaissance to the 20th century. Although each of these artists represents a different artistic period, they are all Western artists who have used the unique aspects or approaches of their particular genre to produce work investigating the nature of the human condition as it was understood in their time period, creating timeless works that reflect some aspect of each of us.

Vincent Van Gogh was born in the Netherlands in 1853 and died in Auvers in 1890 of a self-inflicted bullet wound. Coming from a family who was heavily involved in the art world, Vincent was supported through much of his life by his brother Theo. “A common denominator … in most of the writers and artists Vincent admired: they dealt with the destitute and downtrodden … what moved him was the subject” (Wallace, 1969: 10). During the span of his short career, he produced at least 1700 works, 900 drawings and 800 paintings still survive. Among these are 40 self-portraits. However, he was only able to find a buyer for one painting during his lifetime (Wallace, 1969: 7). He studied art in his homeland for some time, although essentially self-taught, and consistently alienated his benefactors through a steadfast refusal to paint what was popular in favor of illustrating the plight of the peasants. His heavy use of impasto emerged during this early period, but his colors remained the darkened tones of the Dutch painters until 1885, following his father’s death and his move to Paris. His association with other artists in Paris especially opened his eyes to a new use of color. His madness began to come upon him while he was living in Arles, and he was subsequently admitted to St. Remy Hospital where he was allowed to continue painting. “At Saint-Remy he was powerfully drawn to nature under stress: huge whirling clouds, bent, and gesticulating trees, hills and ravines alive and turbulent. Sometimes he combined this agitation with quiet sadness” (Wallace, 1969: 144).

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