Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh, Wheat Field with Crows, 1890

I want to touch people with my art. I want them to say ‘he feels deeply, he feels tenderly.’ Vincent Van Gogh

Questions for Discussion

  1. What was Van Gogh’s background?  How did it contribute to his calling?
  2. How old was he when he decided to be a painter?  Had he any training?  Then why did he think he could do it?
  3. What did his family think of his decision?
  4. What was his relationship with his brother Theo?
  5. What did other artists think of him?
  6. What did he think of himself?
  7. What response did he want his paintings to elicit?
  8. Did this happen?
  9. Do you get why The Potato Eaters is his first success?
  10. Why did he idolize Gauguin?
  11. Could you have lived with Van Gogh?
  12. What did Van Gogh mean when he said that his illness was “both destroyer and midwife?”
  13. Now they would have given him chemicals to cure his mental illness.  Would it have been worth it?
  14. Why does the narrator Schama believe Wheat Field with Crows is the first modern painting?
  15. Schama states that Van Gogh’s work is a “consolation for our mortality through the relish of the gift of life.”  What does this mean?  Do you agree?
  16. Do you believe that if he had lived he would he have been successful?
  17. What kept him from success?  His paintings are now worth hundreds of millions, why the change?