"TITTER YE NOT"
After much careful research, it has been discovered that the artist Vincent Van Gogh had many relatives.
Among them were:
His dizzy aunt...
The brother who ate prunes... Gotta Gogh
The constipated uncle...
The brother who worked at a convenience store...
Stop n Gogh
The grandfather from Yugoslavia...
The cousin from Illinois... Chica Gogh
His magician uncle...
Where diddy Gogh
His Italian uncle...
His Mexican cousin...
The Mexican cousin's American half brother...
The nephew who drove a stage coach...
Wells far Gogh
The ballroom dancing aunt... Tan Gogh
A sister who loved disco...
The bird lover uncle...
The fruit loving cousin...
And his niece who travels
the country in a van...
Winnie Bay Gogh
VINCENT - DON MCLEAN
Lust for Life (1956) is a MGM (Metrocolor) biographical film
about the life of the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, based on the
1934 novel of the same name by Irving Stone and adapted by
It was directed by Vincente Minnelli and produced by John
Houseman. The film stars Kirk Douglas as Van Gogh, James
Donald as his brother Theo, Pamela Brown, Everett Sloane and
Anthony Quinn, who won an Oscar for his performance as Van
Gogh's fast friend and rival Paul Gauguin.
Vincent van Gogh's obsessive devotion to his art engulfs,
consumes and finally destroys him. The apostate religious leaders do not like his zeal for God and
they frown on his social activism and care for the poor in a coal mining town. He returns home to
his father's house where he is rejected by a woman he obsessively loves, takes up with a
prostitute who leaves because he is too poor, and discovers painting, which he pursues while
agonizing that his vision exceeds his ability to execute. His brother, Theo van Gogh, provides
financial and moral support, while Vincent lives off and on with the critical Paul Gauguin. Vincent begins experiencing hallucinations and seizures and voluntarily commits himself to a mental institution. He signs himself out, and with Theo's help, returns to a rural area to paint, where he ultimately shoots himself in despair of never being able to put what he sees on canvas.
The film was based on the 1934 novel by Irving Stone and adapted by Norman Corwin. Vincent Minnelli directed the film, while
John Houseman produced it. They worked with Douglas on the 1952 melodrama The Bad and the Beautiful, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor.
I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process. Vincent Van Gogh
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Principal photography of Art Direction started in August and ended in December 1955 and it was shot on location in France, Belgium and the
George Cukor took Minnelli's place as director for the take of a scene. Two hundred enlarged colour photos were used representing Vincent’s completed canvases; these were in addition to copies that were executed by an
American art teacher, Robert Parker. To prepare for his role as the troubled painter, Douglas practiced painting crows so that he could reasonably imitate van Gogh at work. According to his wife Anne, Douglas was so into character that he returned home in character.
New York Times critic Bosley Crowther praised the film's conception, acting and color scheme, noting the design team "consciously made the flow of color and the interplay of compositions and hues the most forceful devices for conveying a motion picture comprehension of van Gogh." Variety said, "This is
a slow-moving picture whose only action is in the dialog itself."
According to MGM records, the film earned $1,595,000
in the US and Canada and $1,100,000 elsewhere
resulting in a loss of $2,072,000.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Anthony Quinn
Best Actor: Kirk Douglas
Best Art Direction (Color): Art Direction:
Cedric Gibbons, Hans Peters, Preston Ames;
Set Decoration: Edwin B. Willis, Keogh Gleason
Best Writing (Screenplay--Adapted): Norman Corwin
The Best Actor prize went to Yul Brynner, who won for his portrayal of the King of Siam in The King and I. The musical also won
the Oscar for Best Art Direction. Minnelli felt that Douglas should have won the award.
MGM produced a short film Van Gogh: Darkness Into Light, narrated by Dore Schary and showing the European locations used for the filming, to promote Lust for Life. In the film, a 75 year old woman from Auvers sur Oise (not Jeanne Calment, who lived in Arles
several hundred km to the south), who claims to have known Van Gogh when she was a young girl, meets star Kirk Douglas, and comments on how much he looks like the painter. This short promotional film is shown on Turner Classic Movies occasionally. At the start and ending of the film, the creators list and thank a number of galleries, collectors and historians who allowed the works of Van Gogh to be photographed for the film.
The death of Vincent van Gogh, the Dutch post-Impressionist painter, occurred in the early morning of 29 July 1890, in his room at the Auberge Ravoux in the village of Auvers-sur-Oise in northern France. He suffered a gunshot wound two days before the date
of his death, not far from the local inn. It has always been assumed that he shot himself in the chest, wishing to end his life.
There is no blue without yellow and without orange. Vincent Van Gogh
However, Van Gogh's 2011 biographers Steven Naifeh and Gregory
White Smith argue that van Gogh did not commit suicide but was shot
accidentally by a boy he knew who had " a malfunctioning gun ". A
curator at the Van Gogh Museum has stated that experts "cannot yet
agree" with the authors' conclusions about the painter's death.
In 1889, Vincent van Gogh experienced a deterioration in his mental
health. As a result of incidents in Arles leading to a public petition, he
was committed to a hospital. His condition improved and he was ready
to be discharged by March 1889, coinciding with the wedding of his
brother Theo to Johanna Bonger. However at the last moment his
resolution failed him and he confided to Frédéric Salles, who served as
an unofficial chaplain to the hospital's Protestant patients, that he
wanted to be confined to an asylum.
At Salles' suggestion van Gogh chose an asylum in nearby Saint
Rémy. Theo originally resisted this choice, even suggesting that
Vincent rejoin Paul Gauguin in Pont Aven, but was eventually won
over, agreeing to pay the asylum fees (requesting the cheapest third-
class accommodation). Vincent entered the asylum in early May 1889.
His mental condition remained stable for a while and he was able to
work en plein air, producing many of his most iconic paintings, such as
Starry Night, at this time. However at the end of July, following a trip
to Arles, he suffered a serious relapse that lasted a month. He made a
good recovery, only to suffer another relapse in late December 1889,
and early the following January an acute relapse while delivering a
portrait of Madame Ginoux to her in Arles. This last relapse, described
by Jan Hulsker as his longest and saddest, lasted until March 1890. In
May 1890 Vincent was discharged from the asylum (the last painting he produced at the asylum was At Eternity's Gate, an image
of desolation and despair), and after spending a few days with Theo and Jo in Paris, Vincent went to live in Auvers-sur-Oise, a commune north of Paris popular with artists.
IGGY POP LUST FOR LIFE
Shortly before leaving Saint-Rémy, Van Gogh told how he was suffering from his stay in the hospital:
"The surroundings here are beginning to weigh me down more than I can say... I need some air, I feel overwhelmed by boredom and grief."
On arriving at Auvers, van Gogh's health was still not very good. Writing on 21 May to Theo he comments:
"I can do nothing about
my illness. I am suffering a little just now — the thing is that after that long seclusion the days seem like weeks to me." But by 25 May, the artist was able to report to his parents that his health had improved and that the symptoms of his disease had disappeared.
His letters to his sister Wilhelmina on 5 June and to Theo and his wife Jo on about 10 June indicate a continued improvement, his nightmares almost having disappeared.
On about 12 June, he wrote to his friends Mr and Mrs Ginoux in Arles, telling them how his health had suffered at Saint-Rémy but had since improved:
"But latterly I had contracted the other patients' disease to such an extent that I could not be cured of my own. The other patients' society had a bad influence on me, and in the end I was absolutely unable to understand it. Then I felt I had better try a change, and for that matter, the pleasure of seeing my brother, his family and my painter friends again has done me a lot of good, and I am feeling completely calm and normal."
Furthermore, an unsent letter to Paul Gauguin which van Gogh wrote around 17 June is quite positive about his plans for the future. After describing his recent colourful wheat studies, he explains:
"I would like to paint some portraits against a very vivid yet tranquil background. There are the greens of a different quality, but of the same value, so as to form a whole of green tones, which by its vibration will make you think of the gentle rustle of the ears swaying in the breeze: it is not at all easy as a colour scheme." On 2
July, writing to his brother, van Gogh comments:
"I myself am also trying to do as well as I can, but I will not conceal from you that I hardly dare count on always being in good health. And if my disease returns, you would forgive me. I still love art and life very much..."
The first sign of new problems was revealed in a letter van Gogh wrote to Theo on 10 July. He first states, "I am very well, I am working hard, have painted four studies and two drawings," but then goes on to say, "I think that we must not count on Dr Gachet
at all. First of all, he is sicker than I am, I think, or shall we say just as much, so that's that... I don't know what to say. Certainly my last attack, which was terrible, was in a large measure due to the influence of the other patients." Later in the letter he adds, "For myself, I can only say at the moment that I think we all need rest — I feel exhausted (in French Je me sens - raté)." In an even more despairing tone he adds: "And the prospect grows darker, I see no happy future at all."
In another letter to Theo on about 10 July, van Gogh explains:
"I try to be fairly good-humoured in general, but my life too is threatened at its very root, and my step is unsteady too." He then comments on his current work: "I have painted three more large canvases. They are vast stretches of corn under troubled skies, and I did not have to go out of my way very much in order to try to express sadness and extreme loneliness." But he adds, "I'm fairly sure that these canvases will tell you what I cannot say in words, that is, how healthy and invigorating I find the countryside."
In a letter to his parents written around 12 July, van Gogh again appears to be in a far more positive frame of mind:
"I myself am quite absorbed in that immense plain with wheat fields up as far as the hills, boundless as the ocean, delicate yellow, delicate soft green, the delicate purple of a tilled and weeded piece of ground, with the regular speckle of the green of flowering potato plants, everything under a sky of delicate tones of blue, white, pink and violet. I am in a mood of almost too much calm, just the mood needed for painting this."
His brother Theo recognised that Vincent was experiencing problems. In a letter dated 22 July 1890, he wrote, "I hope, my dear Vincent, that your health is good, and since you say that you write with difficulty, and don't talk about your work I am a little afraid
that there is something troubling you or not going right." He went on to suggest he consulted his physician, Dr Gachet.
On 23 July, van Gogh wrote to his brother, stressing his renewed involvement in painting:
"I am giving my canvases my undivided attention. I am trying to do as well as certain painters whom I have greatly loved and admired... Perhaps you will take a look at this sketch of Daubigny's garden — it is one of my most carefully thought-out canvases. I am adding a sketch of some old thatched roofs and the sketches of two size 30 canvases representing vast fields of wheat after the rain."
He returned to some of his earlier roots and subjects, and did many renditions of cottages, e.g. Houses at Auvers.
Adeline Ravoux, the innkeeper's daughter who was only 13 at the time, clearly recalls the incidents of July 1890. In an account written when she was 76, reinforced by her father's repeated reminders, she explains how on 27 July, van Gogh left the inn after breakfast. When he had not returned by dusk, given the artist's regular habits, the family became worried. He finally arrived after nightfall, probably around 9 pm, holding his stomach. Adeline's mother asked whether there was a problem. van Gogh started to answer with difficulty, "No, but I have..." as he climbed the stairs up to his room. Her father thought he could hear groans and found van Gogh curled up in bed. When he asked whether he was ill, van Gogh showed him a wound near his heart explaining:
"I tried to kill myself." During the night, van Gogh explained he had set out for the wheat field where he had recently been painting. During the afternoon he had shot himself with a revolver and passed out. Revived by the coolness of the evening, he had tried in vain to find
the revolver to complete the act. He then returned to the inn.
Adeline goes on to explain how her father sent Anton Hirschig, also a Dutch artist staying in the inn, to alert the local physician
who proved to be absent. He then called on van Gogh's friend and physician, Dr Gachet, who dressed the wound but left immediately, considering it a hopeless case. Her father and Hirsching spent the night at van Gogh's bedside. The artist sometimes smoked, sometimes groaned but remained silent almost all night long, dozing off from time to time. The following morning, two gendarmes visited the inn, questioning van Gogh about his attempted suicide. In response, he simply replied:
"My body is mine and i am free to do what I want with it. Do not accuse anybody, it is I that wished to commit suicide."
As soon as the post office opened on the Monday morning, Adeline's father sent a telegram to van Gogh's brother, Theo, who arrived by train during the afternoon. Adeline Ravoux explains how the two of them watched over van Gogh who fell into a coma
and died at about one o'clock in the morning. (The death certificate records the time of death as 1.30 am.) In a letter to his sister Lies, Theo told of his brother's feelings just before his death:
"He himself wanted to die. When I sat at his bedside and said that we would try to get him better and that we hoped that he would then be spared this kind of despair, he said, " La tristesse durera toujours" (The sadness will last forever). I understood what he wanted to say with those words."
In her memoir of December 1913, Theo's wife Johanna refers first to a letter from
her husband after his arrival at Vincent's bedside:
"He was glad that I came and
we are together all the time... Poor fellow, very little happiness fell to his share,
and no illusions are left him. The burden grows to heavy at times, he feels so
alone..." And after his death, he wrote:
"One of his last words was, 'I wish I could
pass away like this,' and his wish was fulfilled. A few moments and all was over.
He had found the rest he could not find on earth..."
Émile Bernard, an artist and friend of van Gogh, who arrived in Auvers on 30
July for the funeral, tells a slightly different story, explaining that van Gogh went
out into the countryside on the Sunday evening, "left his easel against a haystack
and went behind the château and fired a revolver shot at himself." He tells us how
van Gogh had said that "his suicide had been absolutely deliberate and that he
had done it in complete lucidity... When Dr Gachet told him that he still hoped to save his life, van Gogh replied, 'Then I'll have to do it over again.'"
In addition to the account given by Ameline Ravoux, Émile Bernard's letter to Albert Aurier provides details of the funeral which was held in the afternoon of 30 July 1890. Van Gogh's body was set out in "the painter's room" where it was surrounded by the "halo" of his last canvases and masses of yellow flowers including dahlias and sunflowers. His easel, folding stool and brushes stood before the coffin. Among those who arrived in the room were artists Lucien Pissarro and Auguste Lauzet. The coffin was carried to the hearse at three o'clock. The company climbed the hill outside Auvers in hot sunshine, Theo and several of the others sobbing pitifully. The little cemetery with new tombstones was on a little hill above fields that were ripe for harvest. Dr Gachet, trying to suppress his tears, stammered out a few words of praise, expressing his admiration for an "honest man and a great artist... who had only two aims, art and humanity."
Van Gogh was particularly productive during his last few weeks in Auvers, completing over 70 paintings as well as a number of drawings and sketches. They cover
landscapes, portraits and still lifes. Some of them appear to reflect his increasing loneliness while many others, with their bright colours, convey a more positive attitude. The letters he wrote during his last two months offer a considerable amount of
background on Van Gogh's relentless will to paint coupled with frequent periods of despondency. Not only was he suffering from his mental illness but he was also deeply concerned for his brother Theo who was first worried about the ailing health of his son and was then confronted by serious problems with his business.
In 2011, authors Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith published a biography, Van Gogh: The Life, in which they challenged the conventional account of the artist's death. In the book, Naifeh and Smith argue that it was unlikely for van Gogh to have killed himself, noting the upbeat disposition of the paintings he created immediately preceding his death; furthermore, in private correspondence, van Gogh described suicide as sinful
and immoral. The authors also question how van Gogh could have traveled the mile-long distance between the wheat field and the inn after sustaining the fatal stomach wound, how van Gogh could have obtained a gun despite his well-known mental health problems, and why van Gogh's painting gear was never found by the police.
Naifeh and Smith developed an alternative hypothesis in which van Gogh did not commit suicide, but rather was a possible victim of manslaughter or foul play. Naifeh and Smith point out that the bullet entered van Gogh's abdomen at an oblique angle, not straight as might be expected from a suicide. They claim that van Gogh knew the boys who may have shot him, one of whom was in the habit of wearing a cowboy suit, and had gone drinking with them. Naifeh said, "So you have a couple of teenagers who have a malfunctioning gun, you have a boy who likes to play cowboy, you have three people probably all of whom had too much to drink." Naifeh claimed "accidental homicide" was "far more likely." The authors contend that art historian John Rewald visited Auvers in the 1930s, and recorded the version of events that is widely believed. The authors postulate that after he was fatally wounded, van Gogh welcomed death and believed the boys had done him a favour, hence his widely quoted deathbed remark:
"Do not accuse anyone... it is I who wanted to kill myself."
On October 16, 2011, an episode of the TV news magazine 60 Minutes aired a report exploring the contention of Naifeh and Smith's biography. Some credence has been given to the theory by van Gogh experts, who cite a recorded interview with French businessman, Rene Secretan, in 1956, in which he admitted to tormenting - but not actually shooting - the artist. Nonetheless, this new biographical account has been greeted with some skepticism. Skeptic Joe Nickell also was not convinced and offered alternative explanations. In the July 2013 issue of the Burlington Magazine, two of the research specialists from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Louis van Tilborgh and Teio Meedendorp, present a theory that at the time of his death, van Gogh was in a troubled state, both personally (mentally and physically) and with his relations with his brother, Theo, and a likely candidate for suicide. They also present alternative explanations to the theories presented by Naifeh and Smith.
Now I think I know what you tried to say to me
How you suffered for your sanity How you tried to set them free
They would not listen they're not listening still...Perhaps they never will...