Van Gogh and Gauguin: A Turbulent Friendship

In 1886, Vincent van Gogh moved to Paris where he was exposed to a variety of artists and art movements. He was greatly influenced by Impressionism and Post-impressionism and formed close relationships with artists like Emile Bernard and Paul Gauguin. These friendships led to a regular exchange of paintings and letters between the two, resulting in what is now known as the ‘friend portraits.’

For a brief 63 days in the fall of 1888, Van Gogh and Gauguin lived together as roommates in a yellow house in Arles, France. This intense and turbulent friendship was marked by one of the most bizarre acts in art history when Van Gogh brutally sliced off his own ear. Despite the turmoil, their artistic relationship was one of influence and inspiration. Van Gogh began to use Gauguin’s technique of painting from memory and adopted brighter, more vibrant colors in his art. Meanwhile, Gauguin’s work began to incorporate more religious themes and he began using brighter colors and thicker brushstrokes, similar to Van Gogh’s style.

The time Van Gogh and Gauguin spent together in Arles was brief, but it had a lasting impact on their art. The two artists were able to influence each other’s work and push each other to experiment with new techniques and styles. Their friendship, despite its tumultuous nature, was a catalyst for some of the most iconic works of Post-Impressionist art.