Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Vincent Van Gogh, who as readers know by now, is one of my favorite painters, used a lot of yellow in his work.
It is believed that this was due to excessive use of the drug digitalis, which was being used to control his lifelong battle with seizures. Evidently, the drug can cause the brain to see yellow halos or a yellow haze on and around objects.
During the last years of his life, Van Gogh produced a huge amount of work, many, like those above, had a strong yellow palette.
Vincent suffered from epilepsy, bi polar disorder and depression. To combat these conditions and the effects of some of the drugs he was taking for them, he indulged in drinking absinthe. Absinthe is a liquer made from the wormwood tree. Excessive use of this drink had the potential to impair or even cause the death of the drinker. A toxin called Thujone is one of the ingredients in Absinthe. One of the effects of Thujone poisoning is casting a yellow tinge in vision.
And, finally, the paint used by Van Gogh had a high lead content. Van Gogh was known to nibble on the ends of brushes as he painted, ingesting the lead paint. It is believed that he may also have suffered from lead poisoning. One of the effects of lead poisoning is to cast yellow halos or circles around objects.
These effects are believed to be confirmed by the painting Starry Night.
Digitalis, lead poisoning and Thujone poisoning may have been the cause of the use of yellow in his work, but I think that everything that was Van Gogh, went into his paintings. His sadness, his joy, his love for his brother and family, his drive to paint on his own terms, his devote religious beliefs, his passion for living Life, with a capital L, all went into the beauty that is his work.
Posted by VBR at 6:10 PM