Sketch of the Artists in Post-Impressionism

Vincent Van Gogh

Dutch, 1853 – 1890 (37 years)

Famed as an artist after his death, Vincent Van Gogh was considered a madman and failure in his lifetime. Today he is viewed as a misunderstood genius and one of the most influential artists in western art. Son of a pastor, he found preaching not his calling, but art was. In 1886 he found his way to Paris and became a member of the French avant-garde. Two years later he moved to Southern France hoping to found an art school. Only fellow painter Gaugin joined him. Conflicting personalities — many believe their broken friendship may have ended in Van Gogh’s ear episode. Van Gogh moved to highly personal memories and emotions in his art to connect on a deeper level with viewers — unlike any other artist. He developed his own bold unconventional style: Impassioned brushstrokes using intense color — his chief symbol of expression — a vibration of life. In only a decade long career, Van Gogh created over 2,100 works. His finest work was done in less than 3 years; many paintings like Starry Night were done while self-committed to an asylum. He was haunted by mental illness his entire life. Dr. Gachet was Van Gogh’s private physician and doctor to a number of artists considered renowned today. Patron of their work, Dr. Gachet amassed one of the largest impressionist art collections in Europe. During the last months of his life, Van Gogh painted 2 versions of the Portrait of Dr. Gachet. One sold at auction in 1990 for $82.5 million.

 

The Game version of Portrait of Dr. Gachet was painted in 1890 and is on exhibit at Musee d’Orsay / Paris, France.

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Paul Cézanne

French, 1839 – 1906 (67 years)

The artist’s artist, Paul Cézanne was rejected by the art world at the beginning of his career. By the end of his life he was considered the Father of Modern Art. He evolved through incredibly varied painting styles and subjects. In 1872 Paris, Cézanne formed a friendship with Impressionist painter Pissarro and exhibited Impressionist works with artists of that movement. Cézanne was the first artist of that time to break away from Impressionism — taking a new path he perfected over his life. Cézanne expressed the essence of the visible world through the use of color and basic underlying shapes deconstructing perspective, portraying objects from shifting viewpoints. The style, years ahead of its time, was a forerunner to Cubism and became a central pillar of Modern painting. For Cézanne, painting was serious and demanding. He was painfully slow. Quirky, irritable and shy, Cézanne preferred painting alone. After 1878 he retreated to the solitude of “his” Provence producing remarkable landscapes and did not exhibit for 20 years. In his 50s between 1892 and 1896 Cézanne painted his acclaimed The Card Players in five versions. The painting has been described as a human still life. In 2012 one version sold for the highest price ever paid for a painting — $250 million. Cézanne is considered one of the most influential painters of the 19th Century.

 

The Card Players painted in 1894-95 can be viewed at Musee d’Orsay / Paris, France.

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Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

French, 1864 – 1901 (36 years)

Born into high-society, Henri deToulouse-Lautrec was charming, generous, sensitive and shunned by elite society because of his decadent bohemian lifestyle. He painted what he loved of Paris. An early injury and genetics stunted the growth of his legs. Barely 5 feet tall, he could disappear into a crowd and observe. Lautrec loved a good party, and was renowned for fancy dress—a clown outfit being his favorite. Comfortable with the riffraff of society he spent much time in brothels, becoming a confident and recording their intimate moments. Commissioned for posters to publicize the opening of the Moulin Rouge cabaret, Lautrec so elevated the work to high art, collectors stole the postings before the glue could dry. He painted many performers in his career capturing the essence of their personalities in a few brushstrokes, the glamour striped away. One of Lautrec’s favorite models was the Clownesse Cha-U-Kao, a dance hall entertainer. He had a sympathetic fascination with the marginal in society. Lautrec chose to show his subjects off stage with generosity and sympathy in all their human frailty and vulnerability setting him apart from his contemporaries. Although his life was cut short by his decadent lifestyle, in less than 20 years he created some 737 canvases, over 5,084 drawings, and more. It’s been said that without Lautrec there would be no Andy Warhol.

 

The Clownesse at the Moulin Rouge, painted in 1895,
can be enjoyed at the Oskar Reinhart Collection /
Winterthur, Switzerland.

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