10 facts (and a video) on the prolific genius who died a relatively unknown artist.
1. Vincent van Gogh was born on March 30, 1853, in Groot-Zundert, Netherlands. He was named after his grandfather and his stillborn brother who died one year before Van Gogh was born.
2. Van Gogh was 27 years old when he painted his first piece.
3. When Van Gogh first began painting, he used peasants as models. He would later paint flowers, landscapes and himself, mostly because he was too poor to pay the models.
4. Van Gogh suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy, a chronic neurological condition characterized by recurrent, unprovoked seizures.
5. During one of his seizures, Van Gogh attempted to attack his friend Paul Gauguin with an open razor. This ultimately resulted in Vincent cutting off a piece of his own ear – but not the whole ear as is often rumored.
6. Van Gogh created his most famous work “The Starry Night” while staying in an asylum in Saint-Remy-de-Provence, France.
7. In a short period of ten years, Van Gogh made approximately 900 paintings.
8. It is thought that Vincent shot himself in a wheatfield in Auvers, France but did not die until 2 days later at the age of 37. This fact is widely contested, though, and several alternate theories have sprung up, including one that he was shot by two boys. His brother Theo, at his side when he died, said that Vincent’s last words were “La tristesse durera toujours,” which means “the sadness will last forever.”
9. Vincent Van Gogh visually depicted turbulence, an incredibly complex (and still unsolved) mathematical principle in several paintings during a particularly chaotic time in his life.
10. Vincent only sold one painting during his lifetime and only became famous after his death.
Check out the full TED-Ed Lesson “The unexpected math behind Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” that these GIFs were pulled from: