Tuesday, March 1, 2016

On Why Van Gogh Cut Off His Ear

On Why Van Gogh Cut Off His Ear: There are various theories regarding Van Gogh and what happened to his left ear in December 1888. For starters, ever since about 1880, Van Gogh's father wanted his son committed to an insane asylum, because he experienced serious bouts of psychosis (delirium, depression, etc.) from time to time. When Van Gogh's father died in 1885, these psychotic episodes appeared more frequently. In the late 1880s, Van Gogh had been living in the south of France (Arles on the Rhone to be exact). He intended to turn the city into a colony for artists of the post-Impressionist genre. In fact, some of his most well-known paintings (Starry Night over the Rhone and Cafe Terrace at Night) originated during his time in Arles. And for two months in late 1888, Paul Gauguin lived with Van Gogh. Yet after Gauguin made plans to return to Paris, Van Gogh confronted him. The prevailing theory is that Van Gogh cut off his ear in a fit of rage during the ensuing argument, and gave it to a woman at the local brothel. Some art historians believe that Gauguin and Van Gogh shared a love interest with this woman, and thus, Gauguin might have actually attacked Van Gogh in a fit of jealousy. Whatever the case may be, this story will forever fascinate scholars of late-19th century impressionism.

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