Vincent van Gogh
Image: Starry Night
Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) was a Dutch Post-Impressionist artist. His paintings and drawings include some of the world's best-known and most expensive pieces. Van Gogh spent his early life working for a firm of art dealers and after a brief spell as a teacher, became a missionary worker in a very poor mining region. He did not embark upon a career as an artist until 1880. Initially he worked in somber colors- the bright colors influencing his now recognizable style from a Paris encounter with Impressionism and Neo-Impressionism.
He produced all of his more than 2,000 works during the last ten years of his life; most of his best known works in the final two years of his life. During this time he cut off part of his left ear following a breakdown in his friendship with Paul Gauguin, suffered recurrent bouts of mental illness and committed suicide. Van Gogh is a pioneer of what came to be known as Expressionism and had an enormous influence on 20th century art, especially on the Fauves and German Expressionists.