Vincent van Gogh & Paul Gauguin: Artistic Friendship | Full Documentary | Biography

their stories will shock surprise and inspire you the biography channel introduces you to the people and the issues that shape our world beginning now on biography extra vincent van gogh long dreamed of finding intimacy with a wife and a brotherhood with fellow artists yet from the start vincent was an outsider introspective volatile difficult he only hoped to find those who would accept him for who he was but vincent knew in his heart that this hope would remain unfulfilled i shall have to suffer much especially from the peculiarities which i cannot change my appearance and my way of speaking and my clothes i shall always move in a different sphere vincent in his darkest moments vincent found solace in memories memories of the countryside of his youth vincent willem van gogh was born march 30th 1853 in the village of zundert in the netherlands his father theodorus was a protestant minister in a roman catholic parish he preached to a handful of townspeople in a one-room church vincent’s mother anna cornelia was known for her piety and goodwill it was a highly conventional rather stiff environment his father had to adhere very closely to convention and gradually you have this awareness that they have a difficult son they have a misfit on their hands from the time he was a boy vincent was quiet often alone he enjoyed long walks in the country stopping along the path to make a sketch of nearly anything that caught his eye vincent had strong feelings for everything from bugs to animals he really is a nature lover and a nature inhabiter one sees this i think in the early drawings that he does at the age of 11 vincent’s parents sent him away to boarding school they wanted to provide him with a better education vincent felt his parents were abandoning him he was not happy in fact years later he’ll recall being going with his parents to the boarding school and being left and seeing their carriage retreat and this for him was a cataclysmic event vincent was a poor student and had trouble making friends a sense of aloneness crept over him he does quite clearly seem to be subject to depression and he does quite clearly seem to feel senses of isolation when vincent was 15 he was abruptly pulled from boarding school and sent home the family was short on money and vincent was told to find a job through a family connection vincent landed an apprenticeship in the hague with goop heels the international art gallery vincent was a natural he quickly learned about the world of fine art but his new knowledge new passion didn’t help him actually sell art van gogh seems to have been a very intense person very emotionally intense but also very much choosing a cause and getting dedicated to it he sort of throws himself into certain types of study he becomes an art dealer and is an art dealer with all of his life when he worked in the art trade he went too far he wouldn’t sell works of art he wanted to talk about them he wanted to interest people the more vincent immersed himself in the art world the more he enjoyed it it is a splendid firm vincent wrote his younger brother theo the longer you’re in it the more ambition it gives you as always vincent carried his sketchbook and would draw the everyday scenes he saw around him for the moment he was happy in may of 1873 after four years in the hague 20 year old vincent despite being

a rather poor salesman got a promotion and a transfer to gupil’s london gallery on the outskirts of london vincent found a room in a boarding house there he fell in love with the proprietor’s daughter eugenie and soon found himself dreaming of asking for her hand in marriage yet vincent knew little about eugenie he didn’t know that she was secretly engaged to another man he has this habit of meeting people whom he likes and imagining a relationship in a way that those imaginings get the better of him he was an enormously vulnerable man because he opened himself up to that world so totally and most of us live by our defenses and he had very few defenses it took vincent six months to gather his courage and propose but eugenie rejected him vincent could not bear the rejection he fell into a depression ate little lost interest in his work he would later think of his 21st year as one in which his boat capsized and then sank vincent wrote a somber note to his younger brother theo and quoted a french scholar whose words he’d taken to heart to act well in this world one must sacrifice all personal desires man is not on this earth merely to be happy he is there to realize great things for humanity vincent began searching for something more meaningful he took to studying the bible with great fervor at times he would copy pages out of it over and over again until passages were burned into his memory vincent began to feel that religion was his one true calling he wanted to preach in a church and he was determined to do it his own way biography extra will continue in a moment biography extra continues now here on the biography channel in 1874 at the time vincent van gogh was prepared to dedicate his life to god paul gauguin was settled down in paris gauguin was 26 5 years older than vincent and had a professional job as an accountant with a stockbroker he was married to a young danish woman named mehta god by the time they got married paul gauguin and meant to god knew each other almost not at all within a year of of their meeting they were married and of that year they’d only spent about four months together so you know they really had no idea what they were getting in for gogan’s new wife thought she was marrying an upstanding bourgeois gentleman but she was wrong paul gauguin would always fail to live up to the expectations of those who loved him eugene paul gauguin was born in paris on june 7 1848 before he turned two the young gauguin had lost his father to a heart attack by the time he turned 11 his mother had run out of money she left her son at boarding school and went on to look for work as a seamstress i think in the context of 19th century culture it was not that unusual for families to be separated during times of financial trial or times of change and transition and yet that has an emotional cost gogan learned to rely only on himself he cared little for school his dream was to become a sailor he later called his urge for adventure his terrible itching for the unknown when he turned 16 gogan left boarding school planning to take to the sea his mother wanted him to continue his schooling and attend the naval academy to become an officer to become a naval officer he would have been set financially for life if he had just done that but no he wanted to be his own person no one could tell him what to do and i think you can see that

resistance to doing the right thing throughout his life gauguin refused to enter the naval academy and instead he took to the sea as a member of the merchant marine paul gogan left on his first tour of duty on december 6th 1865 he sailed from la have bound for rio de janeiro while the voyage itself was not memorable gauguin would never forget his sexual adventures he was a hormonal teenager released into ports where there were lots of prostitutes he turned as early as sex exiped that he himself talked about into something that’s sort of slightly dirty and exotic sexuality is not the romantic kind for him it is more about power and about respect what’s very clear is that he understands what’s legitimate and what’s illegitimate and he’s drawn to the illegitimate on shore leave in india gauguin learned that his mother had died after a brief illness she was just 42 years old when the 23 year old gauguin returned to paris in 1871 he found some notes that his mother had written shortly before her death gauguin learned that she was concerned he’d not made a professional career for himself and she was troubled by his difficult personality he has made himself so unliked she wrote that he will one day find himself all alone he turned friends into enemies and that was true throughout his life he was a very charming very smart very talented guy and he knew how to make friends he knew how to get people on his side but at the same time he could do or say something that was so incredibly offensive to them that i can’t even count up the number of times he was on the verge of fighting duels almost as if he were responding to the concerns of his deceased mother he quickly set out to make a new career for himself he landed a job working for a stockbroker and was soon making a good income enough to support his rapidly growing family he and his wife metta would have five children in their first nine years of marriage he did however never relinquish the restlessness that was sparked by the time in the merchant marine and for some people that’s a phase they put behind and go on to another phase of adulthood for gokan it made him excited about seeing the rest of the world and putting on the suit having the wife and having all those children so quickly was a lot of pressure for a young man gauguin found one particular outlet for the pressure he faced collecting art his interest in art would turn to obsession an obsession that would quickly grow beyond the simple desire to purchase art galgan would soon become driven to make art himself at the time gauguin was throwing himself into collecting art vincent van gogh was devoting himself to his newfound passion for religion 23 year old vincent left his job as an art dealer with gupil’s gallery in london in the spring of 1876 he decided that he would become a preacher like his father and grandfather before him after months of searching vincent found a position as a lay preacher when i was standing in the pulpit i felt like somebody who emerging from a dark cave underground comes back to the friendly daylight vincent vincent taught religious school wrote sermons and preached in london’s poorest neighborhoods he pushed himself hard and cared little that he barely earned enough to get by he’s someone who has to give meaning to his life he’s someone who has to have faith he was enormously demanding of himself and others there is this degree of fanaticism with vincent with whatever he does he thinks he has to reform the world every time sort of which of course immediately leads to failure because it’s so unrealistic

in 1877 vincent traveled to amsterdam and began preparing for the entrance examinations at the theological school he studied greek latin algebra and geometry vincent worked hard slept little but he had difficulty concentrating on his lessons at times he became so frustrated with himself that he beat his own back with a stick until he was covered with bruises and his further self-punishment he made himself sleep outside even on the coldest nights after nearly a year in amsterdam it was finally time for the exam despite all his efforts vincent felt he wasn’t ready and simply decided not to take it i don’t think his intellectual approach was in any way conventional and i think conforming to any kind of a set curriculum would have been very difficult for him van gogh was a highly intelligent man he could speak several languages he was familiar with a broad range of literature from the bible through shakespeare to modern french and english literature he could quote verbatim from many texts still vincent yearned to serve god any way he could and he began to live his life as he believed jesus christ had lived his by the time paul gauguin was in his late 20s he’d made a small fortune playing the booming stock market he began spending much of his new wealth buying art the art that interested him most was the challenging new works of the impressionists but gauguin was not satisfied with simply collecting art he wanted to make it himself and in 1875 he began putting sundays aside for painting gauguin befriended camille pisarro one of the leading impressionist painters and took every opportunity to paint with him pissarro became gogan’s mentor gauguin was an obsessive person and extremely competitive so he if he got interested in something then he would do everything imaginable to succeed he organized his life so he could paint as much as possible he worked less and his income fell drastically his wife and children soon learned that they could no longer depend on him gauguin began dreaming of making a living off his painting but he had yet to sell a single work of art biography extra will continue in a moment biography extra continues now here on the biography channel by the spring of 1880 paul gauguin had made real progress with his painting and his mentor camille passaro took notice pissarro invited gauguin to exhibit with the impressionists who by then had made quite a name for themselves to exhibit with the impressionists was a real door opener because of course he had no standing by that time they did have a reputation and it was a huge huge huge opening for him to be able to associate his name with monet with duga with the other members of the group and so he was sort of riding their coattails gogan exhibited again with the impressionists in 1881 his portrait of a nude sowing caught the critic’s attention gogan got his first review and it was a good one among contemporary painters of nudes one critic wrote none has achieved such a forceful note of reality now gauguin still a part-time painter had the sense that he could make it as a professional when the stock market crashed the next year gauguin lost his job now instead of looking for another one he felt free to pursue his art

full-time in december of 1878 vincent van gogh convinced a belgian evangelical school to grant him 50 francs a month to serve as a lay evangelist he traveled to southern belgium and began preaching the gospel to minors the 25 year old vincent did more than simply preach he felt that to minister to the miners he had to live like the poorest of them he gave away all his clothes except for a pair of pants and a jacket his home was a shack with only a straw mat for a bed he did not eat regularly he was unkempt his hair wild he even refused soap as a wicked luxury a book he read very often at that time was imitation of christ he wants to imitate christ too now what christ did was sharing everything giving everything and he acted exactly the same way in july of 1879 the evangelical school cut off vincent’s stipend while commending his sacrifices and his care for the miners they thought him too extreme too unconventional vincent was so upset he lost all his faith in organized religion yet he would never lose his religion his faith in god for me that god of the clergyman is as dead as a doornail but am i an atheist for all that there is something which i cannot define that is very much alive and very real and i see that as god or just as good as god vincent still his failure plunged him into depression in his despair vincent returned to his drawing the one activity that gave him joy vincent takes time out there’s not much communication with his family there’s a period of intense self-reflection and that’s when he comes back and announces to them i’m transferring basically the ambitions that i had into art july 1880 my dear brother theo i am a man of passions capable of foolish things but the problem is to try every means to put those self-same passions to good use for instance i had a violent passion for works of art reaching the highest pitch of enthusiasm i am often homesick for the land of pictures ever yours vincent although he was 27 years old and had never painted a picture in his life vincent van gogh decided that he would become an artist at the age of 35 paul gauguin began his life as a full-time artist he was supremely self-confident he figured that he would succeed as quickly in painting as he had in the stock market but by october 1884 after two and a half years without an income galgan’s savings were gone his wife meta had had enough of struggling just to get by so she took the children and moved to her mother’s house in copenhagen gauguin stayed behind to continue painting he had decided to put a type of self-love above all else he’s made the decision that it’s art before all else and once he’s made that decision it’s a decision that he remains true to for the rest of his life and very much characterizes his relations with other people he is someone who is looking to what it is that he wants to do and people get hurt in the process where people get hurt in the process dear meta i have gradually hardened this sensitive heart of mine in order to keep up my psychological fortitude you must remember that there are two temperaments within me the savage and the sensitive man the sensitive man has disappeared which allows the savage to proceed straight ahead without wavering paul gauguin would never again provide for his own family and while he professed great love for his children and would correspond with his wife for many years to come he would visit them once in denmark and would never see them again

biography extra will continue in a moment biography extra continues now here on the biography channel once vincent van gogh made the decision to become an artist he threw himself into learning his new craft with his usual absolute intensity he studied handbooks on drawing copied from prints that theo had sent him and worked with other art students with money donated by theo vincent set up his first studio in the hague in 1882 he hired models who were poorer even than himself and had them pose as if they were downtrodden workers he really wanted to convey something of the the difficult lot of the peasant’s life it was a very hard living he wanted to depict that in his art none of the the predication none of the the dressing up which you often see in art of that time there’s almost this kind of tactile identification between the the mud and the earth that the peasants work and the paint that the artist manipulates on the canvas vincent lived quite frugally but when he could afford it he’d spend a night out at the brothel he fell in love with a 32 year old pregnant alcoholic prostitute named cene before long she moved in with vincent theo to me there is such a wonderful charm in that slight fadedness it is not the first time i was unable to resist that feeling of affection and love for those women who are so damned and condemned and despised by the clergymen from the pulpit when he sees scene he sees her in terms of the fallen woman from the bible then he says something enormously revealing books and reality and art are all the same to me and essentially he says if i didn’t see her through the lens of books and art i would probably find her very boring and through these filters she becomes the fallen woman whom he wants to raise up but cene was not interested in being raised up vincent suspected that she periodically fell back into her old ways selling her body and drinking too much and she had a violent temper seen raged at vincent and he responded in kind after living with scene for 19 turbulent months vincent concluded that he was better off alone in september of 1883 he left her in the hague and moved to the countryside there he painted peat bogs canals peasants and he began to call himself a peasant painter it’s always been thought that when he was making those dark paintings of peasants and rural areas in holland that he was making things that were not vanguard because they were dark however what he knew about vanguard art had to do with realism had to do with the sense of of finding in your own world figures and forms that had an extraordinary resonance he believed that this was the modern way and he sent his pictures to paris saying these are modern masterworks and he couldn’t understand why there was no enthusiasm and hooray coming out of paris as a reaction to this what everyone was trying there very politely to think about ways of telling him that this looked very old-fashioned but he didn’t have a clue he believed he was a modern painter early in 1886 vincent even attended formal art school in antwerp he lasted just one month and then he dropped out stale academic training did not interest vincent at all he wanted to go where the art was alive vibrant modern so he decided to go to the capital of art paris vincent moved in with his younger brother theo despite theo’s protestations that his apartment was just too small for the both of them theo was a moderately successful art dealer with gupil’s paris gallery he was not wealthy yet he supported vincent with a monthly allowance the relationship between vincent and teo was

in some senses a business relationship vincent made the art and tail was supposed to sell it without tail there would have been no vincent it’s as simple as that not long after vincent arrived in paris in the spring of 1886 he saw the eighth and final impressionist exhibition on display were works by the impressionists including paul gauguin and there were paintings by a new generation of artists led by sarah these artists called neo-impressionists or pointillists believed that they could achieve a brighter effect by painting small dots of pure unmixed color that exhibition opened up a whole new world to vincent he saw color as he had never imagined it and he set a new challenge for himself vincent was determined to become nothing less than the best colorist amongst the new generation of vanguard artists in the 1886 impressionist exhibition gogan showed 19 canvases he was broke and desperately needed to sell but his paintings were virtually ignored no one pays attention to him because there’s new great talent on the scene george sura and he transforms the paris vanguard and so gauguin has to say am i going to follow this new man and where does that leave me approaching 40 and trying to make my way as a professional artist gauguin left paris determined to experiment and to somehow find his own distinctive style he traveled to a remote corner of brittany there he was intrigued by the rugged landscapes he was fascinated by the age-old traditions of the breton people i love brittany there is something wild and primitive about it when my wooden clogs strike this granite ground i hear the dull muffled powerful tone i seek in my painting go get gogan will later refer to brittany is just like the middle ages where time stood still where it’s a culture of superstition people wear different costumes different type of clothing and you can get in touch with the past by being there for gauguin the ancient way of life that he found in brittany gave him new inspiration he began to see the primitive as the subject matter that would set his canvases apart and the pursuit of the primitive would drive both gauguin’s art and life for the rest of his days biography extra will continue in a moment biography extra continues now here on the biography channel while paul gauguin was in brittany developing a style that he hoped would capture attention vincent van gogh was making his own changes in paris he abandoned the dark solemn colors he’d been using for years and he began to experiment with the bright palette of the impressionists vincent’s brother theo reported back to their mother vincent is mainly painting flowers with the object to put a more lively color into his next set of pictures he is also more cheerful than in the past and people like him here he is progressing tremendously in his work i think his difficult times are over and he will be able to make it by himself it’s not so much that anybody said to him oh you must paint with brighter colors it’s that he realized that art was in another place than the art of his own life and experience and that he needed to you know get with the program and he did i don’t think there’s any artist in the history of modern art who’s had a

shorter and more intense and better informed crash course in their modernism than did van gogh after spending the summer of 1886 in the breton village of pontavan gauguin began to dream of living and painting in even more primitive surroundings i know of a little island that is almost uninhabited i shall take my paints and brushes and reinvigorate myself far from the company of men i shall live like a savage go gan when gogan used the word savage i think he used it in the exact same sense as primitive which meant rejecting the bourgeois values of paris and the society he had rejected when he left paris but also it was an admiration of the people of the quote savage or primitive cultures he had gotten to know in his past and his experiences in the merchant marine and in brittany in the spring of 1887 gauguin set sail for the west indies island of martinique during the long journey gogan became seriously ill with malaria this moment my body is a skeleton after being so low that i expected to die every night i have at length taken a turn for the better but i have suffered agonies in the stomach as sick as he was gogan still managed to paint in martinique for five months and he even brought his art to another level what changes in martinique is the color he’s really beginning to focus on this idea of exaggerating his colors in order to express something about the exoticism and the beauty of the place he was seeing i had a decisive experience on martinique gauguin wrote it was only there that i felt like my real self gauguin returned to paris in november of 1887 hoping that there he could find a doctor to cure his malaria gogan though was not only sick he was broke he immediately set out to sell his martinique works visiting every possible avant-garde collector and dealer he met with theo van gogh who was one of the few dealers looking to buy impressionist art and with theo was vincent the van gogh brothers were enthralled with gauguin’s new works there’s great poetry in his pictures of negros’s everything he does has something gentle heart-rending astonishing vincent the martinique paintings are really important because that’s what actually connects gogan to the van gogh brothers when they see these incredible martinique pictures both of them are just bowled over they think this is the great artist of our day theo immediately bought three of his canvases and vincent would later exchange two of his own studies of sunflowers for one of gogan’s negros’s this trade marked the beginning of an exchange between vincent van gogh and paul gauguin that would include not only their works of art but their ideas about how best to create art i think both van gogh and gauguin were rebels they were both passionate about color they were both passionate about art they were also both slightly eccentric and i think i think that’s what attracted them to each other vincent saw gauguin as a partner with whom he could develop nothing less than a new modern art gogan saw vincent as the brother of theo the art dealer who gogan hoped would jump start his career neither saw the other for who they were gauguin was haughty and self-centered vincent vulnerable and intense together they created a volatile partnership so volatile that it could not last yet so momentous that it would never be forgotten biography extra will continue in a moment biography extra continues now here on the biography channel

as 1887 wore on vincent van gogh felt increasingly overwhelmed by his life in the big city he was exhausted and in poor health his teeth were crumbling his stomach bothered him he drank too much and to make matters worse he found himself arguing with nearly everyone he spent time with including his brother theo you see van gogh building relationships but then at the same time undermining them and destroying them he refused to compromise that’s partly a dutch trait but he carries it through to great extremes he’s somebody who’s always on the edge and i think working with van gogh or being with van gogh would mean like you know walking on eggs the the entire time the 34 year old vincent felt he had to get away from the tumult of paris he began making plans for a retreat to the country and he dreamed of gathering like-minded artists to form a group studio he wants to partner with gogan he wants them to form a community of artists and to realize this missionary ambition that he has and that is to create an art for the modern time a consoling art that basically is a modern form of modern gospel gauguin declined vincent’s offer instead he left paris and returned to pontavan where there was already an artist’s community in place there he enjoyed near celebrity status as one who had exhibited with the impressionists i take psychological satisfaction in ruling the roost here in ponte van all the artists fear me and like me not a single one resists my convictions gogan meanwhile vincent had himself left paris traveling nearly 450 miles to the town of aurel in southern france there he settled into a four-room yellow house he focused his sights on the countryside around aryl and soon he found what he was looking for peace and inspiration vincent began to paint with intensity he made paintings that were brilliantly and vulgarly colored in terms of french popular taste and which were rough and goopy and they looked wet even when they were dry because the paint was so thick and you could see all of his brush strokes going on he had now an idea that he wanted to develop this new art based on color based on personal expression but also following the natural world the months of the summer of 1888 it’s in many ways a high point in his art never was he so confident never had he such a clear idea of the direction which he wanted to follow i must warn you that everyone will think that i work too fast but is it not emotion the sincerity of one’s feeling for nature that draws us and if these emotions are sometimes so strong that one works without knowing one does so when sometimes the brush strokes come with a sequence and a coherence like words in a speech then one must remember that it has not always been so and that in time to come there will again be dreary days devoid of inspiration so one must strike while the iron is hot in brittany gauguin always the one to dispense volumes of advice had fallen under the influence of a much younger artist the 20 year old emile bernard bernard was caught up in the arcane theories of a new avant-garde movement known as symbolism symbolists believed that it was best for artists to remove themselves from

the logical everyday world and to explore the artificial world of dreams and hallucinations here’s gauguin who’s 40 he’s very full of himself thinking that he’s the most important artistic thinker who’s ever landed on the planet and all of a sudden in in his letters gauguin is saying things that that sound very much like bernard he’s using religious illusions he’s talking about abstraction which is another term that bernard had used and all of a sudden his paintings are becoming like that too in the fall of 1888 gauguin finished painting the vision after the sermon he was so pleased with his latest canvas that he decided to donate it to the local church the priest though rejected it he thought it was some kind of joke gauguin’s symbolist works were met with equal skepticism when he sent them to paris even the most avant-garde collectors had no interest in buying them gogan bemoaned his ever-increasing debt an artist’s life he said is one long martyrdom biography extra will continue in a moment biography extra continues now here on the biography channel in aurel vincent van gogh devised a plan that would allow him to launch the group studio he’d been dreaming of the studio of the south to start it he would need the cooperation of gauguin and his brother theo may 1888 my dear theo you can’t send gauguin what will keep him going in brittany and what keeps me going in provence but you may think it a good idea for us to share say 250 a month if every month you get a gogan in addition to my work besides you know that i have always thought it idiotic the way painters live alone you always lose by being isolated vincent theo liked the idea and sent the offer to gauguin who immediately agreed but gauguin was in no hurry to leave pontevan he liked the artist colony idea of brittany arle was nowhere i mean nobody went to oral if he spent time in oral who was going to be you know worshiping him and who was going to be carrying back all these tales to paris nobody but vincent assumed gauguin would come any day vincent tells his brother he says i know gogan’s coming i want gauguin to come i want gogen to influence me but i also want to assert my own individuality and to show him when he arrives what i’m capable of vincent wanted to finish as much as he could before gagan’s arrival so he pushed himself ever harder completing at least one painting every other day what we know about the sunflowers is that he made them for gogan’s bedroom the french word for sunflower is tornasol which means turning towards the sun that that are like the eye following the sun and the artist following the sun and the studio of the south and van gogh following the sun vincent started using color to emphasize a feeling a mood he worked as he said to exaggerate the essential to leave the obvious vague months had passed since gauguin had agreed to go to oro still he’d made no plans to leave ponte ven where the pencion glonac gave him room and board on credit he really didn’t want to go even though he kept promising that he would and finally theo said okay

okay exhibition in paris 300 francs a month this is the deal paul says okay okay i’ll go to oral gogan set out for auro late in october 1888 five months after he had first agreed to come when gauguin arrived in oro he was dismayed to find that vincent’s yellow house was a mess i found everywhere a disorder that shocked me his box of colors was scarcely large enough to contain all the squeezed tubes which were never closed yet in spite of all this disorder there was something brilliant in his canvases gogan gulga had come with this attitude of well of course i’m the master and i teach little van gogh how to do things and he comes there and when go has done some of the most amazing pictures by that time and what happened was not only was ven go intensely difficult and quite different in his lifestyle than gauguin was but there was a full-fledged artist who had his own opinions who had done brilliant work and who had to be reckoned with nonetheless gauguin immediately began to act as vincent’s mentor he wanted vincent to work as a symbolist less from reality and more from imagination don’t copy nature too literally art is an abstraction derive it from nature as you dream in nature’s presence and think more about the active creation than the outcome gogan but vincent didn’t think much of gauguin’s teachings i devour nature ceaselessly i exaggerate sometimes i make changes in the subject but still i don’t invent the whole picture on the contrary i find it already there vincent vincent and gauguin often worked side by side interpreting the same subject through their own vastly different temperaments gauguin seemed unable to get brittany off his mind when he painted an oral vineyard he used women in their traditional ponte ven dress accuracy doesn’t matter he reported to bernard it’s the best oil i’ve done this year when the daylight faded vincent and gauguin went to the cafe they drank heavily and they argued incessantly their only entertainment was their weekly outing to the brothel and as the inclement winter weather set in the two painted in a single cramped room in the yellow house the mood inside their confined quarters became so taut and dark vincent grew worried that gauguin would tire of him and leave all he reported to theo that all vital warmth between them was extinguished as the tensions increased he said i could only think about his leaving and the uncertainty of gogan’s commitment to the studio of the south and exactly how long he was committed to stay in the south became the overriding concern and it seems to have basically sunk everything else on several occasions gauguin would awake with a start to find vincent standing over his bed staring at him wide-eyed vincent it seemed was checking to see if gauguin was still there gauguin usually combative became withdrawn and silent vincent would explode into a rage at any perceived slight one day late in november while vincent painted a still life of sunflowers gauguin painted a portrait of vincent when vincent saw it he said it is certainly me but me gone mad my dear theo gauguin is a little disenchanted with the good town of arl the little yellow house where we are working and

above all with me in short i think that he’ll simply either leave or he’ll simply stay i await his decision with absolute serenity vincent yet vincent was anything but serene he could barely contain his distress at the thought of gauguin’s departure biography extra will continue in a moment biography extra continues now here on the biography channel on the night of december 23rd 1888 paul gauguin went out alone for a walk soon after he’d left the yellow house vincent van gogh came running up behind him he blurted out you are silent but i will also be silent and then he asked gauguin if he was actually going to leave aryl when gauguin told him he was vincent handed him a torn piece of newspaper and left as abruptly as he’d arrived vincent rips out something a piece of a newspaper and it says the murderer fled and the suggestion of that would be that vincent is telling gogan that he’s the murderer and he is fleeing because go against saying he’s leaving and what did he murder he murdered the dream of the studio of the south gauguin was disturbed enough by vincent’s behavior that he decided to stay the night in a hotel the next morning gauguin returned to the yellow house he found the walls and floors splattered with blood upstairs vincent lay unconscious in his bed barely alive he had hacked through his left ear with his razor gogan had vincent rushed to the hospital soon gauguin learned what had happened to vincent after they had parted the night before vincent had gone back after i left had taken a razor and had cut off his ear he had then covered his head with a large beret and had gone to a brothel to give his ear to one of the inmates telling her verily i say unto you you will remember me it seems that van gogh had a form of epilepsy that was aggravated by very bad nourishment by heavy drinking by heavy smoking what van gogh himself wrote about were things like not knowing what happened to him having lost track of time not knowing what he had done um immediately before such an attack occurred either with goga as well as later on that he had hallucinations that he was hearing things that he felt extremely disoriented vincent remained in the hospital for two weeks meanwhile gauguin left for paris without bothering to pay him a visit gauguin left because he just wanted to get out of there i think he he was really allergic to responsibility and here is vincent who’s totally crumbling and who needs care and needs attention and needs a nurse and there’s just no way that gauguin is going to do that he is just not that kind of a person when vincent finally felt well enough to return home and paint he didn’t shy away from what he had done to himself in fact he painted two self-portraits prominently showing his bandaged ear he made masterful paintings which show a damaged artist someone who has suffered but who is clearly very much in control of his artistic abilities those are among the greatest works that bengal did his neighbors though feared he was dangerous and pressured the police to act on february 25th 1889 the police arrived unannounced and took vincent from his house and locked him up in a hospital room i reproached myself from my cowardice i should have defended my studio better others in my place would have used a gun and certainly if as an artist i had killed a few blockheads i would

have been acquitted i would have come off better that way yet i was a coward and a drunkard vincent unable to return home thirty-six-year-old vincent van gogh voluntarily interned himself in the asylum in nearby sarimi du provence despite the turmoil vincent continued to paint with his usual intense focus so often bengal’s work is being interpreted as part of the illness he is the mad genius who and all his work is looked at from that point of view and i don’t think you can do that i think it’s very very important to see that an artist who is worried insecure and has serious times of illness at the same time is completely in control of the work he’s doing paul gauguin returned to brittany soon after he had fled from arl it was mid-winter he was broke and he spent most of his time cooped up inside the marie henri inn to pass the time gogan and his friends painted murals on the ceiling and walls of the dining room and he began painting a series of canvases with christ as the central figure he even made two of the christs after his own image i think there’s no question that he’s making allusion to the fact that he was a martyr in the same sense that jesus was and that he was just as misunderstood as jesus was he was not a modest man i mean most of us feel a little bit like martyrs at one time or another but but to to portray ourselves as christ i mean that’s extraordinary that takes that takes a lot of ego i owe something to vincent that is the consolidation of my previous pictorial ideas and then in my difficult moments a recollection that there are even unhappier people than myself go beyond the studio of the south had an odd impact in that rather than affirming the possibility of collaboration for goget i think it helped him realize he worked better alone both of these men looked to each other for inspiration but both of them essentially use the other to define who they were already or who they were already becoming vincent had bristled at the idea of painting from memory when gauguin was with him in aurel but in june 1889 vincent decided he would try his hand at it while in his room at the asylum he painted a view overlooking the town of san remy he would never consider the canvas finished calling it only a study of night today it is known as the starry night dear theo at last i have a new study of a starry sky though i have not seen goga’s last canvases i am pretty well convinced that this is parallel and feeling this will perhaps give you some idea better than words of the things that gauguin and i used to talk about vincent but in the end the starry night was just an experiment vincent’s interest remained in working with what he saw before him vincent’s illness began to follow a pattern a few months of sanity followed by weeks or even months of mental illness hallucinations terror paranoia and each attack brought attempts at suicide vincent swallowed turpentine handfuls of dirt even toxic paints the doctors at the asylum managed to keep vincent from killing himself yet after less than a year vincent felt desperate to leave his protected quarters my surroundings here begin to weigh on me more than i can say i need air i feel overwhelmed with boredom and grief i am at the end of my patience i can’t stand it anymore i must make a change even a desperate one

vincent as plans went forward for vincent to leave the asylum he got some exciting news his paintings were reviewed for the first time 1890 this robust and true artist with the brutal hands of a giant with the nurse of a hysterical woman with the soul of a mystic he is so original and so alone in the midst of the pitiful art of our time albert mercure de france shortly after the review was published vincent’s the red vineyard was sold the only painting of his that would sell during his lifetime i think it’s important to remember that vincent’s entire artistic career spanned just 10 years and even when he was producing the works which we now think of as the most famous masterpieces he himself felt that he was just an apprentice vincent didn’t know it but he was at the height of his career flooded with ideas vincent never had enough time to paint all that he wanted and time for vincent was running short biography extra will continue in a moment biography extra continues now here on the biography channel on may 16 1890 after more than a year at the asylum vincent van gogh left his confined but protected life behind him he settled in a quiet village not far from paris over sir was each morning he was up at dawn and he would paint until the evening light faded away over his 70 days in over vincent would complete 70 canvases in july vincent paid theo a visit in paris during vincent’s day in the asylum theo had married and his wife johanna had given birth to a baby boy when he arrived vincent found theo deeply worried over his ability to support his wife and child as well as vincent vincent in turn worried that he was now too great a burden on his brother it is not a trifle when all of us feel our daily bread in danger it is not a trifle when for other reasons also we feel that our existence is fragile back here i too have felt very sad and have continued to feel the weight of the storm which threatens you vincent this is a real anxiety about whether or not the support is going to continue and it’s not just financial support it’s also emotional support because theo’s allegiances are now split they’re not only directed at him but directed at his wife and child vincent had gone nearly five months without an attack the longest reprieve yet but he became preoccupied with the nagging thought that his next attack was not far off my dear brother there are many things i should like to write you about but i feel it is useless i have risked my life in my work and it has cost me half my reason he suddenly stopped writing and instead went out to paint as usual vincent took his traveling easel paint box and his canvas and walked out into the fields but this time he brought along something else a revolver vincent turned the gun toward himself and pulled the trigger the bullet entered his chest below his heart

vincent got up fell began walking back to his room fell again somehow he made it back to the inn climbed the stairs to his room and lay down in his bed hours later the innkeeper found him in a pool of blood vincent turned and said i tried to kill myself but i missed a doctor was summoned but he could not remove the bullet when theo arrived the next day he found vincent lying quietly in his bed smoking his pipe as theo began sobbing vincent looked at him and said simply do not cry i did it for the good of everybody theo replied that they would do whatever they could to save him but vincent did not want to be saved the sadness he said will last forever vincent willem van gogh died in his brother’s arms at one in the morning on tuesday july 29 1890. he was 37 years old the next day theo emil bernard and a handful of others accompanied vincent’s coffin to the ovaire cemetery piled high on the coffin were masses of flowers including vincent’s favorite sunflowers to me he was a sincere friend gauguin wrote theo i shall see him in my eyes and my heart in his paintings his illness was not a temporary thing and the increasing difficulty in working in getting on with the art when it was disturbed by material difficulties and by the the problems of his physical mental illness and that i think must have created a situation of of utter utter despair which ultimately led to the to the suicide vincent van gogh had painted for just over nine years yet he had completed close to 900 paintings over the next three decades vincent’s paintings would gain worldwide admiration an admiration that remains unmatched even today there’s something that is very immediate very insistent very urgent they sort of jump out of the canvas they come to you they grab you and they pull you in that immediacy that visceral quality about vince’s pictures very much appeals to people biography extra will continue in a moment biography extra continues now here on the biography channel after vincent van gogh’s death his brother theo wanted to mount a retrospective exhibition for vincent but theo would not get the chance within six months of his brother’s suicide theo van gogh died from what doctors believed to be kidney failure with theo’s death paul gauguin suddenly found himself without his dealer and greatest supporter when theo van gogh died i was lost gauguin wrote he alone knew how to build up a clientele and sell pictures without theo gauguin felt he needed to spark new interest himself so in april 1891 three months after theo’s death gogan set out for the south pacific he hoped that paintings from an exotic land would attract the attention he needed back in paris after 69 days at sea gogan landed in tahiti

he settled in a remote village lived in a hut and shed his european clothes he soon began to see a whole new range of colors in the bright sunlight of the south pacific everything in the landscape blinded me dazzled me coming from europe i was constantly uncertain of some color and yet it was so simple to put naturally onto my canvas a red and a blue forms of gold enchanted me gauguin he was exaggerating the colors but fascinated by the people the color of their skin fascinated by their houses and the richness the lushness of the landscape i am beginning to grasp the oceanian character and i can guarantee that what i am doing here has not yet been done by anyone else and that it is not known in france i hope this newness will tip the balance in my favor gauguin was not only enchanted by the landscapes but by the tahitian women whom he found as he said to have an indescribable something which is infinitely penetrating and mysterious he used the young native women as models he envisioned them as madonna noblewoman distraught mother gogan also used the young native women for more personal services taking advantage of the relaxed sexual mores of the region he purchased a series of concubines over the next decade some were as young as 13 years old it was you know he had died and gone to heaven i mean here was a situation where the the very objects of his desire were available to him if i were a parent of a 13 year old girl i would condemn him for this unseemly interest the tahitian parents did not gogan had been suffering from the effects of syphilis for years fatigue severe eczema with oozing sores and chest pains but the sexually transmitted disease did not keep gauguin from his young women all a painter’s love goes into his work women are nothing but meat i have a 15 year old wife who cooks my simple everyday fair and gets down on her back for me whenever i want all for the modest reward of a frock with 10 francs a month paul gauguin gauguin would father four illegitimate children he supported none of them for much of 1897 he was so ill from syphilis that he could not gather the strength to paint let alone get out of bed so gauguin spent his time writing journals biographical essays as well as musings on religion all with the view toward defining his own public image paul gauguin spent the rest of his life trying to hold up his end of the compared reputations of the two of them he was constantly in his own letters and his own memoirs talking about how important he was and how much he he taught vincent in 1898 gauguin learned that a paris gallery owner named ambrose vollard had purchased some of the works gogan had shipped back to france months earlier vollard liked them so much he wanted to buy more he was sending back these these absolutely magnificent works from tahiti i think they were the best works he did while he was there he’d really reached his peak and that showed bullard offered gogan a monthly allowance of 300 francs in return for his paintings in tahiti this was enough to make gauguin a comfortably wealthy man for fullard was no fool and he realized that there was a rising star here he didn’t know how famous gauguin would become he recognized the value and the the genius in gogas works and then took a gamble

late in 1901 galgan’s art took a turn his new works were simpler stripped of primitivist allegory and elements of native folklore go against painting for paris he’s painting pictures to go back to vollard i think he was aware that a certain kind of landscape would go down easily something beautiful something arcadian but that that hermetic or esoteric symbolism might be a harder sell in april 1902 gauguin shipped 20 paintings to vollard and then he stopped painting for good his body was ravaged by syphilis he could not even stand up long enough to paint he began to consider returning to france where he could be seen by a doctor his role as an avant-garde artist had developed in such a way that he had in a sense painted himself into a corner and that if he were to leave that corner and go back to paris he would lose lose the power of the mystery he generated for himself and he cared desperately enough about posterity about his reputation about how he would be seen in the future that he didn’t want to lose that i am a savage in spite of myself i feel i have been right about art and if my works do not endure there will remain the memory of an artist who set painting free paul gauguin died on may 8 1903 at the age of 54 he was buried in a small catholic cemetery not far from his home he probably died of a of an overdose of morphine which is a rather common way of committing suicide and a painless way of committing suicide and largely because he was so miserable by the time that by 1903 he could hardly walk he couldn’t get around he couldn’t have sex anymore life was a disaster and physically and tertiary syphilis is not an attractive way to die when gauguin was but a young man his mother had worried that her son was so disagreeable that he would find himself all alone her worry had come to pass gauguin had died alone in a foreign land his artwork unknown outside a small circle of young artists and critics he had abandoned vincent van gogh the one friend who had needed him most but two years before gauguin died he painted an homage to vincent he painted a series of paintings that are absolutely about vincent and they’re about his memories of vincent and they’re about vincent’s failures in his view and they’re a profound homage to a kind of failed friendship a friendship that was too powerful for either them to have endured they spent only a brief tumultuous moment together yet they are linked forever they are linked by their passion for color by the drama of the yellow house and by their struggle to create a new modern art and the art they created over a century ago continues to draw us in we are drawn in by vincent’s sheer emotion feverish brush strokes and brilliant color by gauguin’s layers of meaning silken texture and daring unreality and we are drawn in by the beauty you