Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Vincent Van Gogh: Art and Soul

What am I in the eyes of most people — a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person — somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then — even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart. That is my ambition, based less on resentment than on love in spite of everything, based more on a feeling of serenity than on passion. Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me. I see paintings or drawings in the poorest cottages, in the dirtiest corners. And my mind is driven towards these things with an irresistible momentum.

Art is to console those who are broken by life.

I put my heart and soul into my work, and I have lost my mind in the process.

The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.

Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.

If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.

At present I absolutely want to paint a starry sky. It often seems to me that night is still more richly coloured than the day; having hues of the most intense violets, blues and greens. If only you pay attention to it you will see that certain stars are lemon-yellow, others pink or a green, blue and forget-me-not brilliance… It is obvious that putting little white dots on the blue-black is not enough to paint a starry sky.


It is looking at things for a long time that ripens you and gives you a deeper meaning.

Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.

Yes, for me the drama of a storm in nature, the drama of sorrow in life, is the best… Oh, there must be a little bit of air, a little bit of happiness, but chiefly to let the form be felt, to make the lines of the silhouette speak. But let the whole be sombre.

A great fire burns within me, but no one stops to warm themselves at it, and passers-by only see a wisp of smoke.

It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.


These quotations have been selected and arranged by Michael Simms from Dear Theo: The Autobiography of Vincent Van Gogh, edited by Irving Stone and Jean Stone.

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Self-Portrait, 1887, Art Institute of Chicago

3 comments on “Vincent Van Gogh: Art and Soul

  1. Patricia A. Nugent
    October 25, 2020

    I love, love, love this! Thanks for putting it together. I also love his art. Soulful, indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Barbara Huntington
    October 25, 2020

    I am usually put off by inspirational quotes, but today I found myself wanting to print and post. Instead, maybe I will get up the umph to write (or not).

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Alice James
    October 25, 2020

    Alice J

    >

    Liked by 1 person

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