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Vincent van Gogh quotes


Vincent Willem van Gogh (30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890) A Dutch post-Impressionist painter. Born in Groot-Zundert, Holland. The son of a pastor, Vincent was brought up in a cultured, Christian atmosphere. He was highly emotional and appears to have lacked self-confidence. Between 1860 and 1880, when he finally decided to become an artist, van Gogh had worked rather unsuccessfully as a clerk in a bookstore, an art salesman, and a preacher in the Borinage (a drab, grey mining district in Belgium), where he even preached down in the mines and was extremely concerned with the lot of the workers. He was dismissed after 6 months, but continued without pay. During this period he started to produce charcoal sketches.

Vincent van Gogh is generally considered the greatest Dutch painter after Rembrandt, though he had little success during his lifetime. Van Gogh produced all of his work (some 900 paintings and 1100 drawings) during a period of only 10 years before he succumbed to mental illness (possibly bipolar disorder) and committed suicide, aged only 37 years old. At that time his work was known to only a handful of people and appreciated by fewer still. However, his fame grew rapidly after his death, especially following a showing of 71 of van Gogh’s paintings in Paris on March 17, 1901 (11 years after his death). Now several works by Van Gogh rank among the most expensive paintings in the world.

Quotes

Quotes on God, religion, life, love…
“But I always think that the best way to know God is to love many things.”

“An artist needn’t be a clergyman or a churchwarden, but he certainly must have a warm heart for his fellow men.”

“For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.”

“I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.”

“Love always brings difficulties, that is true, but the good side of it is that it gives energy.”

“Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well.”

“When I have a terrible need of – shall I say the word – religion. Then I go out and paint the stars.”

“That God of the clergymen, He is for me as dead as a doornail. But am I an atheist for all that? The clergymen consider me as such — be it so; but I love, and how could I feel love if I did not live, and if others did not live, and then, if we live, there is something mysterious in that. Now call that God, or human nature or whatever you like, but there is something which I cannot define systematically, though it is very much alive and very real, and see, that is God, or as good as God. To believe in God for me is to feel that there is a God, not a dead one, or a stuffed one, but a living one, who with irresistible force urges us toward aimer encore; that is my opinion.”

“I am no friend of present-day Christianity, though its Founder was sublime.”

Quotes on art…
“It is not the language of painters but the language of nature which one should listen to, the feeling for the things themselves, for reality is more important than the feeling for pictures.”

“I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.”

“Painting is a faith, and it imposes the duty to disregard public opinion.”

“Paintings have a life of their own that derives from the painter’s soul.”

“I am always hoping to make a discovery here, to express the feelings of two lovers by a marriage of two complementary colors, their minglings and their oppositions, the mysterious vibrations of kindred tones.”

“There are colors which cause each other to shine brilliantly, which form a couple which complete each other like man and woman.”

“I do not know myself how I paint it. I sit down with a white board before the spot that strikes me. I look at what is before my eyes, and say to myself, that white board must become something.”

Quotes on struggle, lonliness…
“As we advance in life it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed.”

“Even the knowledge of my own fallibility cannot keep me from making mistakes. Only when I fall do I get up again.”

“How can I be useful, of what service can I be? There is something inside me, what can it be?”

“I am still far from being what I want to be, but with God’s help I shall succeed.”

“In spite of everything I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing.”

“It is better to be high-spirited even though one makes more mistakes, than to be narrow-minded and all too prudent.”

“One must work and dare if one really wants to live.”

“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.”

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”

“I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process.”

“I wish they would only take me as I am.”

“Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me.”

“One may have a blazing hearth in one’s soul and yet no one ever came to sit by it. Passers-by see only a wisp of smoke from the chimney and continue on their way.”

“Many people seem to think it foolish, even superstitious, to believe that the world could still change for the better. And it is true that in winter it is sometimes so bitingly cold that one is tempted to say, ‘What do I care if there is a summer; its warmth is no help to me now.’ Yes, evil often seems to surpass good. But then, in spite of us, and without our permission, there comes at last an end to the bitter frosts. One morning the wind turns, and there is a thaw. And so I must still have hope.”

“I tell you: you must not be afraid of making mistakes. People think they will become good by doing no harm, but that’s a lie. Such a frame of mind leads to stagnation and mediocrity.”

“In the end we shall have had enough of cynicism and skepticism and humbug and we shall want to live more musically.”

Quotes on imagination…
“Do not quench your inspiration and your imagination; do not become the slave of your model.”

“I dream of painting and then I paint my dream.”

“I can very well do without God both in my life and in my painting, but I cannot, suffering as I am, do without something which is greater than I am, which is my life, the power to create.”

“I experience a period of frightening clarity in those moments when nature is so beautiful. I am no longer sure of myself, and the paintings appear as in a dream.”

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”