Thursday, July 24, 2008

Corridor in the Asylum

"It is only too true that a lot of artists are mentally ill - it's a life which, to put it mildly, makes one an outsider. I'm all right when I completely immerse myself in work, but I'll always remain half crazy."
- Vincent van Gogh [1853 - 1890]

Regarding Bipolar Disorder:
Throughout his life, Van Gogh gave evidence of mental instability having a difficult and moody personality. Various biographies - all from the perspective of history - describe him as suffering with epilepsy, depression, psychotic attacks, delusions, and bipolar disorder. In December 1888, Van Gogh experienced a psychotic episode in which he threatened the life of Paul Gauguin, a personal friend and fellow artist. This episode also brought about the notorious incident in which Van Gogh cut off a piece of his own left ear offering it as a gift to a prostitute. Subsequently, he consigned himself to a mental asylum for more than a year, but left in frustration because his condition was not improving.
“On July 27, 1890, Vincent walks to a wheat field and shoots himself in the chest. He stumbles back to his lodging, where he dies two days later, on July 29, with Theo at his side. He is buried in Auvers on July 30. Among the mourners are Lucien Pissarro, Emile Bernard, and Père Tanguy. Bernard describes how Vincent's coffin is covered with yellow flowers, ‘his favorite color ... Close by, too, his easel, his camp stool, and his brushes had been placed on the ground beside the coffin' " [Van Gogh Museum].