Post-Impressionist Artist Vincent van Gogh: Inspiration For Centuries

The famous Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh is known for his quest to find substance and meaning in objects. And to cater to this, he chose expressive tones of color and disjointed brushstrokes to create artworks of in-depth understanding and visual representation.

The artwork of Van Gogh was influential, particularly during the Post-Impressionism period, as he would add color to the skin where it did not fit. In other words, his fame is directly linked to his urge to depict realism by capturing real-life scenes with the help of color and brushstrokes. His influence on Post-impressionism is visible via his ideology of considering his artwork a means to the emotional outlet as his work represents his thoughts and emotions.

Vincent van Gogh’s style of art

Van Gogh created outstanding drawings because his figures and landscape could be appreciated without color. This was because he drew using a pencil, charcoal, and chalk of black, red, and blue colors.

The artist’s early years were marked with paintings using dark and melancholic colors that went along with his subject matter of labor and peasants. However, as he moved to Paris, he was greatly influenced by the Post-Impressionist art style.

What is post-impressionism

 Post-Impressionism is a French Art movement that emerged in reaction to opposing the Impressionism ideals of depicting the natural light and color to represent the subject matter. Instead, post-Impressionists extended the basic concepts laid by impressionists, such as the use of elaborate, vivid colors and thick paint. In addition, they rejected the limitations of Impressionists by using distorted and geometric forms to create an in-depth expressiveness.

Influence of Post Impressionism on Van Gogh

One of the most famous Post-Impressionist painters who greatly influenced modern artists is Vincent van Gogh who brought expressionism to modern art. Vincent Van Gogh’s drawings describe stunning subjects that came from within. In other words, his work demonstrated his emotions, especially since they were in line with his suffering from depression.

The artist showed deep interest in the theory of Neo-Impressionism in line with the perception of color and considered it to form the basis of his style of fragmented brushstrokes. Consequently, you may see that Van Gogh did not continue with his previous use of dark colors following accentuated brushstrokes in Paris. Instead, he turned towards a rather cheerful approach by using bright colors in his paintings.

While, on the one hand, Van Gogh was highly influenced by the technical innovations as practiced by the Neo-Impressionists, on the other, he was disappointed by these people as in awe of emphasizing the technical visual objectivity, the Neo-Impressionists often neglected the essence of the content.

Furthermore, Vincent Van Gogh’s artworks as a Post-Impressionist artist showcase the use of curvy forms and coarse brushwork along with the use of vivid colors as he brightened his palette, thickening his brushwork as the Post-Impressionists inspired him. This technique, commonly known as Impastos, conveyed a greater feeling of physical energy. 

His use of color instead instilled symbolic, visually expressive values instead of showcasing the mere literal surroundings as featured by the Impressionists. In addition, he uses random colors to convey emotions and expressions linked to the message he wants to communicate. The best example of this technique is in his work Starry Night.


Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat

Through color combinations and brushstrokes, Van Gogh expressed his mental state via the artworks he produced. And therefore, his mental state can be assessed by the self-portraits he created, where his view of the self changed along with his mental state. 

The technique of post-impressionism is therefore evident through his self-portrait as post-impressionists used the means of color combination to showcase emotions. Nevertheless, as a sitter, he examines his sense of self. The self-portraits are though the same in a subject, but the portrayal technique used is different since it changed according to his varying circumstances.

Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat is among the famous Vincent Van Gogh’s painting list that shows the use of a changed color palette as it was much lighter and softer compared to Van Gogh’s earlier works. The artist experienced short brushstrokes and used softer colors to express feelings, like with the rural culture of the French countryside. 

This is mostly seen during the summers, and the straw hat is symbolic of this season. The sunshine thus represents hope, and as seen from the green and blue eyes, he calls for help and at the same time shuns the viewer away as he faces a crumpling state of health as he paints this portrait.

Starry Night

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Starry Night – Vincent Van Gogh

In one of the most famous Vincent Van Gogh artworks, the artist shows the psychiatric hospital where he spent almost a year. The painting, therefore, is a nocturnal scene where Van Gogh expresses his emotions through his artwork. It rather showcases the struggle of the artist who underwent depression and thus reflects his pain. Van Gogh was passionate about nights, and in this regard, the use of blacks and dark blues are symbolic of the night, showing the inherent needs of a hopeless man; he is, thus, at the center, surrounded by a dark starry night.

Being one of the influential post-impressionist artists, Van Gogh also experienced the attempted pointillist technique in the artwork, where the contrasting color dots are used and optically mixed, resulting in a visually appealing color for the viewer. You can further understand this technique in his Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat artwork.


Van Gogh was, thus, an influential Post-Impressionist painter who used his artworks to channel his emotions, and much of his work varied according to his feelings and mental state. Using short brushstrokes and color variance resulted in visually and realistically appealing work that continued to inspire people for centuries.

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