Van Gogh in São Paulo


Antropofagia is identifiable in VincentËs work in that he often used the composition of another artistËs work as a guide without copying it blindly. Millet, the "painter of farmers," was undoubtedly the artist whose work he copied most, even though the strokes and use of colors are unmistakably van GoghËs. "Sensing the value, the originality and the superiority of Delacroix and Millet, for example, I feel I need these artists as a basis for producing to the best of my modest abilities."3 In turn, many artists were indebted to him: his work and dramatic course of life have been a constant source of inspiration. Gauguin, the fauvists, Mondrian, Sluijters and the German expressionists all learned from his work.

It is well known that he sold very few works during his lifetime. Nevertheless, he was able to continue producing art despite the constant threat of poverty because of the monthly allowance he received from his brother Theo. His letters to his brother include abundant references to money. The allowance made his need to sell his works less acute. In some cases Vincent even refused to sell because he preferred to keep certain works together. Surprisingly, Theo, who was an art-dealer himself, seems to have made precious little effort to sell or even exhibit VincentËs work. The relationship between the two brothers seems to have been marked by love and hate, with Vincent the artist being cannibalized by his brother. By providing money in varying amounts (most likely because of his own financial problems), Theo rendered Vincent totally dependent upon him. The artist soon acknowledged that all his works basically belonged to Theo, who seems to have had little difficulty accepting such submission. VincentËs dependence on his brother was more than financial: in his letters he tried repeatedly to explain and justify his way of life. Criticism of his excessive dependence on his brother was expressed only through constant remarks on the amount or the absence of TheoËs payments. Vincent rarely nagged Theo to do more to disseminate his work. The two brothers remained an autonomous unit, characterized on the one hand by an artist-buyer/patron relationship and on the other hand by TheoËs unhealthy domineering. At times, Theo appeared to identify with Vincent the artist and to realize his own artistic aspirations·suppressed out of his economic need to work at an art-dealerËs·by controlling VincentËs life and work. As if to confirm this idea, Theo died six months after his brotherËs suicide.


3. Vincent van Gogh, letter 605, September, 1889.