The Mad Artist

​The only artist I ever remember learning about in school was Van Gogh. I wasn’t too taken aback by his paintings, but I cant shake the feeling, that he only made it to the twenty-first-century because of his infamous mutilation.

I doubt ‘starry night’ would have been seen as much more than just a few swirls and his self portrait, just a face – if he hadn’t cut off his own ear. Van Gogh is proof that even a hundred odd years ago, society was as unforgiving as it is today. 

That you can never really make it anywhere if your message is that which is out of the norm, unless you tear yourself apart for the masses and make a spectacle of yourself, your influence remains dormant – because people only ever remember a show. 

I mean, he may have lost his ear in an accidental mishap and backed it with a crude story, but that doesn’t take away from how I feel about the way schools teach ten year olds about such issues. Why weren’t we told, that if we ever felt the need to harm ourselves in a similar way, then we should speak to somebody about it. Why wasn’t the scream addressed as a cry for help 

Self harm, mental health and perceived ‘insanity’ all link to societal pressure somehow. Maybe schools should work on building a healthy level of understanding of such issues, instead of attempting to amuse kids and simply remembering him as:

The Mad Artist.

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15 thoughts on “The Mad Artist

  1. Reblogged this on Dynamic Diary and commented:
    It is sad how he is only considered a mad artist because of his ear incident and how that may have been the start of his famous work. There’s probably a lot about his life and psyche that we can’t understand as children. Once we’re older maybe we can do some research for ourselves. Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith have written a book called “Van Gogh: The Life.” And we have online access to his letters.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. He’s the only artist I remember learning about too. I recall having to recreate Starry night for an exam. Your words are so true. If anything is done out of the ordinary, you’re going to stand out in society. But it’s that very society that can be so cavalier about something as serious and increasingly commonplace as depression and self-harm, and only acknowledged when a physical manifestation of it forms.


    1. My point exactly, that even for one to stand out, he/she must follow a few certain steps to ‘success’, otherwise society sees them as insane. We need to start faulting the foundations of our societies or at least looking at them from an outside perspective. Thank you Naureen ❤


  3. Hi,

    Your post reminds me of this incident that happened a few years back. My father is an artist known for his watercolors and many other genres of art and handicrafts. And he teaches art as well. So there was a student who had come to learn watercolors from him, he must have been about 17 years old I think. On the 2nd day of his class, he brought along some of his works and they were horrific. They were all in red color and very disturbing shapes. My dad asked him the meaning of them, he said he often dreamt of killing his father. My dad then refused to teach him and told his dad to take this kid for psychological counseling first. After that we moved to another city, so we never knew what became of him.

    What I feel is that artists are usually driven by their emotions and state of mind. My dad painted darker stuff for a few days when my brother died of terminal illness. But he got back to his usual upbeat landscape painting. Looking at the paintings it isn’t that hard to draw conclusions about the artist’s state of mind. It is the family that can do it and get the necessary help quickly.

    Who knows if Van Gogh could have produced even better art had he gotten the help. I sure hope that posts like yours bring that awareness and many people can be helped. Thanks for writing this article. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kindra M. Austin says:

    My favorite Van Gogh is “Autumn Landscape” circa 1885. There is a disturbing pale looking figure in the background that haunts me.


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