Why I never want you to forget Vincent Van Gogh

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A view changing story about twisted love, the struggle of feeling misunderstood and a known story shared in a new light.

Submitted: November 04, 2017

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Submitted: November 03, 2017



What pops into your mind when you hear the name, Vincent van Gogh? Perhaps one of his paintings or maybe one of the ridiculous price tags on some of them. Personally, I've always seen paintings like his as just something pretty to look at. As that is my view I have never understood why people choose to pay as much as 82,5 million dollars just for paint on fabric. Especially when there are organizations like AMF (Against Malaria Foundation) that can save a literal life with just 3,340 dollars? But that's not what I'm going to concentrate on in this text. What I wanted to talk about is what makes a painting stand out? What makes it worth that kind of money?

At first, I just brushed it off as age. You know the older a painting is the higher the price tag gets. But then I stumbled upon an article on a painting that was made fairly recent by Jean-Michel Basquiat that sold for about 110,5 million dollars.

So what is it that makes a painting so special? To find the answer I chose to look at the past of one of my favorite artists, which is Vincent Van Gogh because surely the quality of the painting must come from it's making. And after some enlightenment, I got to say that I understand the concept of art a little more.


So, my friends, I'm pretty sure you know who Vincent Van Gogh is since you choose to read this but if not I strongly suggest that you look him up before you continue. But if you know who he is or even calls yourself a fan of his work you've probably heard about the infamous story about Vincent's ear. But if you don't, it's the base of this story so I probably should start with telling you about it. So simply said, he cut off his ear and gave it to a prostitute. Pretty dramatic, but not the full story. See there's a lot of explanations to why he did this. But the most common one is that he was in love with the prostitute and well that drove him to cut off his ear as a gift because he was out of his mind, sounds pretty solid, doesn't it. But like most things nothing looks the same when you peel off the layers.  


To begin, the women was not a prostitute, but it's understandable how we could've thought that because she worked at a brothel. Her job was to clean the rooms and change the bed sheets. A pretty shitty job, but she needed the money. Gabrielle as he name was had rabies that she got from a dog bite, and she desperately needed the money to pay her medical bill. The treatment for her rabies gave her horrible burns and scars, and in a place where men base their judgment solely on appearance you could only imagine what she went through working there, the nasty looks, the mockery that she would receive daily. Vincent's unusual gift was not a ‘Hello I'm crazy and I'm in love with you so here's my cut off ear’ but more of an ‘ I've seen how people are looking at you, so here's something else they can look at’. He put himself in the same situation as her.

Because Vincent had hypersensitivity when it came to other people's emotions, he had way too much empathy for one person. So when he saw Gabrielle going through something so heartbreaking, he emotionally suffered with her. He wanted to help. But Vincent who was just as poor as the young lady wasn't able to offer her any money so she could get out of that god awful place. So what could he do to help her? Talk to her maybe, show that at least he doesn't think that she's disgusting. But then another one of his problems came in the way. Vincent was autistic. And that simply means that he has a big problem communicating and really expressing what he is feeling.


Heartbroken for this girl and driven to in some way show that he understood her misery, that, that is what truly drove Vincent to cut off his ear, to put himself in the same spot as her and to suffer alongside her so that maybe she would understand his intentions and not feel as alone.

Now I want you to imagine, I want you to imagine having all those feelings that you can't understand and can't express and knowing that no one else will ever understand just bubbling under your skin.

I think that fact was what made me look at his artwork so differently. Maybe was it through his art that he kept trying to communicate even though no one at the time seemed to listen, instead of mouthing the words to describe the feeling he felt he put them on a canvas. Can you imagine loving someone so much but knowing that they would never be able to love you back the same way, or even understand how much you care for them, wouldn't that slowly drive anyone crazy? Wouldnt that drive someone to look at the world we live in so differently? I can't even imagine that level of loneliness he must've felt during his years on this earth, and maybe that explains why he later killed himself.


You know what the saddest part of this is? Gabrielle probably never understood what he meant. Imagine a stranger you've never spoken a word too before giving you his ear, would you really think that it was a desperate way of showing that he cared? No, you'd probably be deeply traumatized.

Gabrielle never spoke of this incident, not even her husband knew what happened, her silence made us later believe that Vincent was just crazy for so long, her silence continued the misjudgment of Vincent til his grave and long thereafter. Maybe it was the feeling of shame that kept her from telling anyone? We will never know.


And that is why I never want you to forget Vincent Van Gogh. Because even though he'll never be able to experience understanding at least hundreds of years later we'll appreciate his art and understand what he went through and that he wasn't just a crazed maniac. I also think that this is a truly beautiful story that deserves to be known by everyone.


Before you click away I'd like to add that this text was heavily influenced by a video made by DanPlan on this matter. You can find his video about this on youtube and I highly recommend that you watch it cause it is really amazing.


Thank you for reading!


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