Vincent van Gogh is experiencing a 21st-century renaissance. Popular portrayals of the troubled artist are increasingly appearing on both the small and big screen – a Doctor Who episode, the film Loving Vincent, and the most recent movie depiction from director Julian Schnabel, At Eternity’s Gate, starring Willem Dafoe.
In all of these representations, van Gogh’s mental health is at the forefront of the story — it is hard to mention him without bringing up the self-inflicted severing of his ear in the following sentence. Perhaps the cliché of the ‘starving, tortured artist’ can be attributed most notably to him. This is certainly how we view his art—through the lens of a man who grappled against life, cornered by his own mind’s wolves.
In the late 1880s, after cutting off his left ear and offering it up to a prostitute, van Gogh was admitted to a hospital in Arles…
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