The vacillating mental states of Vincent van Gogh are a topic almost as intriguing as his gorgeous artworks. See how one exhibition is taking this story to a whole new level.
What comes to your mind when you hear the name van Gogh? Perhaps it’s the artist’s iconic painting “Starry Night,” his numerous and revealing self-portraits, or maybe it’s the infamous tale of his severed ear. Whatever it may be, there’s little doubt that the life Van Gogh lived, his troubled mental state, and his unfortunate death have fascinated scholars and casual art enthusiasts alike for generations.
An innovative exhibition in Amsterdam is taking a fresh look into the personal and artistic lives of Vincent van Gogh, with particular interest in the artist’s suicide and the notorious event when the artist mutilated his ear. Titled “On the Verge of Insanity: Van Gogh and His Illness,” the exhibition is a rare opportunity to view a revolver believed to have been the instrument of the artist’s death in addition to rarely seen doctors’ notes and assessments of van Gogh’s condition.
Also on view are some 25 paintings and drawings from the last year or so of van Gogh’s life, which are referenced along with the documents to sculpt a magnificent — yet unfortunate — story of the artist’s descent until his death. All told, the exhibition hopes to draw some clarity into the particular illness — or illnesses — that van Gogh suffered from and in what ways these ailments may have affected his later pictures. “On the Verge of Insanity: Van Gogh and His Illness” opens tomorrow, July 15, and will be on view through September 25 at Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum.
To learn more, visit the Van Gogh Museum.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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