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  • Russ Ramsey

Van Gogh's Pictures of Humanity

For this Art Wednesday we’ll look at some works by Van Gogh in which he depicts the people, and couple these images with some of his own words about the human experience. Let’s call it “Van Gogh’s Pictures of Humanity.”

Van Gogh, The Potato Eaters, 1885


Van Gogh on Work: “Your profession is not what brings home your weekly paycheck, your profession is what you're put here on earth to do, with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling.”

Van Gogh, The Sower, 1888


Van Gogh on the human heart: “The heart of man is very much like the sea, it has its storms, it has its tides and in its depths it has its pearls too.”

Van Gogh, Mother Roulin with Her Baby, 1888


Van Gogh sometimes took a very low view of himself, saying, “What am I in the eyes of most people? A good-for-nothing, an eccentric and disagreeable man, somebody who has no position in society and never will have. Very well, even if that were true, I should want to show by my work what there is in the heart of such an eccentric man, of such a nobody.”

Van Gogh, The Night Cafe, 1888


Van Gogh on Friendship: “Close friends are truly life's treasures. Sometimes they know us better than we know ourselves. With gentle honesty, they are there to guide and support us, to share our laughter and our tears. Their presence reminds us that we are never really alone.”

Van Gogh, First Steps, After Millet, 1890


Van Gogh on difficult times: “Don’t lose heart if it’s very difficult at times, everything will come out all right and nobody can in the beginning do as he wishes.”

Van Gogh, Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, 1889


Van Gogh on our need for God: “If one feels the need of something grand, something infinite, something that makes one feel aware of God, one need not go far to find it. I think that I see something deeper, more infinite, more eternal than the ocean in the expression of the eyes of a little baby when it wakes in the morning and coos or laughs because it sees the sun shining on its cradle.”

Van Gogh, The Red Vineyard, 1888

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