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  • Vincent van Gogh
    Mar 30, 1853 – Jul 29, 1890
  • Spectators in the Arena at Arles - Vincent van Gogh was a Dutch Post-Impressionist painter whose work had a far-reaching influence on 20th century art for its vivid colors and emotional impact. He suffered from anxiety and increasingly frequent bouts of mental illness throughout his life, and died largely unknown, at the age of 37, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His fame grew in the years after his death
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Spectators in the Arena at Arles
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  • Spectators in the Arena at Arles

  • Vincent van Gogh
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  • December, 1888
    Oil on canvas
    73 cm (28.74 in.) x 92 cm (36.22 in.)
    The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russian Federation.

    Van Gogh moved to France in 1886 and from February 1888 he was settled at Arles, in Provence, where in just 15 months he produced over 200 canvases. The subject of this painting is a bullfight at the ancient amphitheatre, and yet the arena is barely noticeable, for the main motif is the public, the colourful crowd gathered to watch the popular spectacle. Amongst the viewers we can see the artist's friends and acquaintances that he so often depicted in other canvaes. During the period when this painting was produced, Gauguin was working in Arles alongside van Gogh and the latter was much taken with his fellow artist's painting style. Note the flattened space and the replacement of individual strokes with general patches of colour, outlined with a broad dark contour. Yet in the expressiveness of the painting we see van Gogh's own powerful temperament and his deeply dramatic perception of the world. Having passed through an Impressionist phase, the artist moved on to create his own personal, intense artistic language.

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Other paintings by Vincent van Gogh:

Sower with Setting Sun
Sower with Setting Sun
Sower with Setting Sun 1888
Sower with Setting Sun 1888
Spring Garden, the Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring
Spring Garden, the Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring
Square Saint-Pierre at Sunset
Square Saint-Pierre at Sunset
Vincent Van GoghThe brilliant color and exuberant vitality of Dutch Post-Impressionist master Vincent van Gogh's paintings stand in stark contrast to his tragic, turbulent life. In 1880, after a series of failed careers, Van Gogh decided to become an artist. Lacking the resources for formal training, he acquired the necessary skills by sketching from books and prints. The artist's earliest works were scenes of peasant life, inspired by Breton and Millet. In 1886, Van Gogh traveled to Paris where he encountered the works of the Impressionists and the fashionable Japanese prints that were immensely popular in Parisian avant-garde circle.

The artist's Paris experience marked a dramatic transformation in his style and the beginning of an extremely productive period. Canvases from this period reflect a radical shift from the somber – paletted realism of his early works to vibrant expressionism. Inspired by the beauty of the area's rural landscapes, Van Gogh moved to Arles in 1888. The move coincided with the onset of the artist's struggle with mental illness and, after one particularly severe episode, he committed himself to an asylum at Saint Remy. While hospitalized Van Gogh continued to paint and it was here that one of his most compelling works, "The Starry Night" was completed.

The artist produced over one thousand works during the ten short years he devoted to painting. He sold only one painting prior to his tragic death, the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.