Its central argument is that Van Gogh was not a raving artistic maniac but instead a thoughtful, brilliant conveyor of thoughts. It intends to show that Van Gogh’s brilliance was contained in his continuous revolution of thought. One assumption made that is conveyed by the form of display is the sudden transformation Van Gogh made when he moved to Paris. This is shown as the switch is made from one gallery to the next just at the dividing line in the letters where Van Gogh made his move and where his paintings came alive with new color and exploration and made possible by the show’s chronological organization.
During the span of his short artistic career, Van Gogh produced at least 1700 works, 900 drawings and 800 paintings still survive. Among these are 40 self-portraits, made both before and after his ‘ear incident’. However, he was only able to find a buyer for one painting during his lifetime, proving to be highly discouraging to the artist, whose last recorded words were “But what’s the use?”. He studied art in his homeland for some time, although essentially self-taught, and consistently alienated his benefactors through a steadfast refusal to paint what was popular in favor of illustrating the plight of the peasants. His heavy use of impasto emerged during this early period, but his colors remained the darkened tones of the Dutch painters. It wasn’t until he left Holland in 1885, following his father’s death, that he began to see color in a different light. His association with other artists in Paris especially opened his eyes to a new use of color and exploration of technique during this period.