NEW EBOOK VERSION NOW AVAILABLE-SUPPORT 'LIFE CYCLES' HIT THE COVER FOR THE LINK!! "There is simply no more revolutionary book written about life..." BRAND NEW INTERACTIVE WEBSITE BY PRESSING THE COVER ABOVE FOR DETAILS! My Reviewers say :- " This book is extraordinary. Reading it has the power to change someone's life completely." "A must read for anyone who wants to understand the meaning of life." "The book puts together enough evidence to make Killion's thesis a way that will keep readers hooked." Three professional reviewers said each of these statements. Go to THE LIFE CYCLES REVOLUTION/FACEBOOK to read the interviews in full. Become a Revolutionary!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Starry Night - Vincent Van Gogh And The Dark Side

There are few other, more tragic figures in history, than the artistic genius Vincent Van Gogh. He lived most of his life on the Dark Side, if only in his own mental torture. Like most things about him, there was not even an agreed diagnosis of his disorder/s. Over 150 psychiatrists failed to reach any consensus and there are at least 20 possible illnesses put forward. I am going to add to the copious literature on him, with my unique 'Life Cycles' analysis of his life. I am writing this article as a tribute to Madilyn (aka. Jersey Lil), who has been a great supporter of my work, and I know Vincent is one of her favorites.

I remember quite a few years ago, I was feeling uncharacteristically morose over some matter, (which I now can't recall) and I guess it showed in my body language; as I got dressed after a session in my gym. The club masseuse, an elderly and kindly gent, said to me :- "Don't worry this will pass. Remember it's the crushed grape that yields the best wine." I've never forgotten those words. It was true for me, as I had not even begun my writing or the theory. However, those words came back to me even more strongly, as I looked at Vincent's life. I wasn't really familiar with the art world, but when I studied him it seemed :- "the more Vincent got crushed, the better, more rich and complex, wine he yielded in his art." He was crushed by so many things, but there is a curious pattern of romantic crisis, that develops when we look at his adult 'Life Cycles' 'significant years' (ie. 19/24/31/36). So let's do just this.

Vincent was born March 30th, 1853, so we will be looking at events when he was aged 19 (ie. March 30, 1872 to March,30 1873). During this time Vincent was busily engaged learning the art business, at leading art dealers Goupil and Cie, at The Hague. I was interested to see that the earliest letter exchanged between Vincent and his brother Theo happened in June 1872. They exchanged hundreds of letters over the rest of his life and much of what we know about him comes from them. I have read a number of these. Also there was much joy around Christmas time, because Theo had also secured a position with the firm in Paris. Now the brothers were in lockstep. In January, it was reported that Vincent's father had bought out the requirement for both brothers to do time in the army for National Service and then in March more good news, because Vincent got a promotion to London.

So, no apparent crisis, it was pretty much smooth sailing. Yes, we have to go forward just a few weeks to Vincent's arrival in London in early May. He then proceeded to lay the ground for his first failed romance with the landlady's daughter, Eugenie Loyer. When he finally got up the courage to declare his feelings, she rejected him saying that she was secretly engaged to a former lodger. This was to lead onto a morose period in Van Gogh's young life. He began to turn his back on the art world and was rude to customers at the shop. He grew more fervent about religion and his uncle had him transferred to Paris in the next year, but he was fired soon after. This move to London and failed romance was his first great crisis and he didn't handle it well.

Let's now skip onto when he was aged 24 and in his first adult 'Year of Revolution'(ie. Mar.1877 to Mar.1878). Now Vincent has convinced his minister father that he is serious about a religious vocation and he is sent to his uncle's home to study for his exams. Once again, this leads on to a fateful meeting, this time with his married cousin Kee Vos-Stricker (shown at left with her child). However he failed his exams soon after the end of this year and had to leave. This crisis was to lead ultimately to the emergence of his art, but not for another seven years. He returned to Kee in 1881, when she was recently widowed and proposed marriage, but she refused with the words :- "No, Nay, Never." He perpetuates the theme of failed attempts at marriage, even if not always within a 12 month framework.

Now Vincent has eschewed the middle class lifestyle, left the church in disgust at his uncle's refusal of such a marriage, and instead lived with the poor as they do and took up with an alcoholic prostitute. He was becoming downtrodden as a preferred way of life. He was crushing himself. Here we are now at his age 31 'Year of Broken Pathways' (Mar.1884 to Mar.1885). He has given up his relationship with the prostitute after more family pressure, and through loneliness has gone back to live with his parents. Not exactly ideal, but less ideal circumstances were just around the corner.

He took trips in the countryside for his painting and in the summer of 1884 was often joined by Margot Begemann, a neighbor's daughter and 10 years older. Just as Stricker had been 7 years older. They decided to get married, but it was opposed by both sets of parents. Margot took poison and was saved when Vincent rushed her to hospital. Then in Mar. 1885 his father died and this caused him much grief. Can you see how he was being crushed and crushed, in one way then another. This was about to yield his art. In the same month of March he did sketches for what is considered his first major work :- The Potato Eaters completed in April, 1885.

We are now going to skip ahead to his final age 36, 'Year of Revolution' (Mar.1889 to Mar.1990). There is no question, that in this year he was crushed by his illnesses and his behavior to such an extent, that he yielded some of the greatest art the world has ever seen. This transcendence, in what is often my most notable single year in a person's life, will come to be seen as one of my hallmark examples in the future. Along with Einstein's theory of General Relativity at 36 and Gandhi's first-ever use of satyagraha (non-violent protest, enshrined as the birth of the civil rights movement). It's all in the book. This was the year of Starry Night considered his greatest work. This was the year of The Irises. His greatest art at 36.

In his life however, things went from bad to worse. In March,1889 police closed his house after a petition by townspeople, calling him a red-headed madman. In April (at the start of his age 36 year) he wrote of:- "moods of indescribable anguish." In May, he committed himself to an asylum in Saint Remy and lived among the insane. When he felt well, he painted and this produced his finest work. However, he commented that he did not enjoy the antics of some fellow patients. In Jan. 1890 his work was praised in Paris and he was called "a genius". But just after this he suffered a severe two month relapse, that was to last till just before he left the asylum in May.

I couldn't find any evidence this time of a failed romance, producing a crisis, but I guess the whole episode began with his falling-out with fellow artist Paul Gaugin, and his cutting off his own ear, just prior to 1889. I'm not the first to suggest that his illnesses seem to be exacerbated by his personal crises, but I would be the first to suggest that there is actually a discernible sequence to his behavioral problems and key events, that have happened in his 'Life Cycles' 'significant years' (or can reasonably be traced to follow-on from them). I hope you enjoyed this profile of Vincent and until next month :- "may the cycles always bring you good fortune."


  1. Neil, thank you for dedicating this post to me, what a nice surprise! Vincent Van Gogh is my favorite artist and I agree, there are few more tragic figures in history or the art world. Mental instability along with artistic genius caused him to live so much of his life on the dark side. Your analogy comparing the quote about the crushed grape yielding the best wine and how when Vincent was crushed by either his own actions or by circumstances, the more rich and complex his art became is very fitting. All the pain of his failed romances and crushing life rejections were released on the canvas in bold strokes of vivid color and texture.

    From what I’ve read of Vincent’s romance with the reclusive Margot Begemann, she admired Vincent and his art, and thought she had found a kindred spirit, and he felt the same. If their families had not objected to the marriage, I wonder if Vincent’s later tragic death might have been prevented. His mental state would likely have still been unstable but love and a home life might have gone a long way to easing his internal pain.

    The way you’ve mapped out key events in his life to Life Cycles significant years, you can really see “a discernable sequence to his behavioral problems and key events.” Fantastic post, Neil! :) Enjoyed the artwork and photos too.

    1. Madilyn, it was my pleasure to do this post. Good point about what might happened if Vincent and Margot had simply defied their families and got married. It would be reasonable to assume a longer and more settled life for Vincent and the stabalising influence of children no doubt would have helped as well.
      Would it have still produced 'Starry Night'? I'm not sure, but we know his output was prodigious, so we can't be sure. Would it have fixed his mental state? Again. it probably would have helped, but the jury's still out on this one as well. I'll bet having a wife would have stopped the Gaugin relationship and establishment of an artists' colony ending so badly. And boy, he ever need some TLC and a few good home cooked meals!
      From my side, of course, it's another instance of a 'blind analysis' producing this fantastic correlation of his greatest work with his age 36, 'Year of Revolution'. If you remember the book, it also worked for the famous artist Frida Kahlo and for Michelangelo (regarding his private unveiling of the almost complete Sistine Chapel). Now I know it's not a foolproof formula, but for something so straightforward and measurable, it has a truly mind-boggling amount of statistical evidence.

  2. A nice coincident we both wrote about him around Thanksgiving!
    Very interesting take! It's no doubt that one's life experience is almost inseparable from his/her creative works. I did not realized that "Starry Night" was created at his 36 age. It's quite a phenomenon! ("age of revolution" is perfect name for my life period from 36 to 48!) Too bad his lived a miserable life, also it is incredible that he created such passionate works that inspired other human beings.

    1. Thanks for your comment Yun Yi. Yes, firstly I had no idea even, what was considered his greatest work, before I did this research! I thought it was the 'Sunflowers', which I once had a print of. I found the age 36 correlation with 'Starry Night' to be inspirational from my side.
      Yes, he did live a miserable life. His marriage proposals were largely objected by family members, because he couldn't support himself, let alone a wife. I understand only one of his paintings was sold right at the end of his life for an amount of 400 francs. It was Theo who kept him going and without him he would have been destitute.
      Yet now his major works are priceless and everyone knows his name. Such is life I guess.