Why is Vincent van Gogh a genius

Vincent van Gogh, a misunderstood genius?

The last time there was a major Vincent van Gogh exhibition in London, so many people came that within 5 weeks the wooden floorboards were worn out.

That was in 1947. Britain had won World War II and people were "starving for color," as one newspaper wrote. When the exhibition opened, people were queuing "to look at pictures".

Now Van Gogh is back at Tate Britain with a new major exhibition focused on his time in London.

When he was in his early 20s, van Gogh lived in the British capital for three years. The exhibition shows how the culture he experienced at the time influenced his own style. She presents him as a smart, young businessman - far removed from the cliché of the “crazy genius” that so many associate with him.

This is due to his later time when he lived in France and dedicated himself to painting. The story is well known: he suffered from severe depression, cut off his ear, lived in a mental hospital for a while, and ultimately committed suicide.

For years critics have been concerned with the impact his illness had on his art. In 1910 a critic called his paintings "the delirium of a madman".

But his letters show that in his darkest hours he did not paint at all. On the contrary: painting kept him sane.

Tortured genius

Is there a connection between creativity and mental illness? Great artists like Lord Byron, Virginia Woolf and van Gogh underpin the idea. Perhaps extreme feelings and unconventional thinking encourage creativity.

Or is that a dangerous cliché? There are many great artists who were not mentally ill. Many who are find that it keeps them from working. Van Gogh, for example, who painted his sunflowers in a happy time. He was not because of its problems so awesome but rather in spite of of their.

You decide

  1. Who is your favorite artist?


  1. Write a short paragraph (in German) describing the painting of sunflowers at the top of this article and how it makes you feel.

Some people say

"Normality is like a paved road: you can walk on it, but no flowers grow on it."

Vincent van Gogh

What do you mean?

F & R

What do we know?
At least one study has shown that artists are overrepresented in large groups of people with mental health problems.
What do we not know?
Why it is like that. Does genius make mental illness more likely? Or are people with mental problems looking for a way to express their feelings in art? Scientists disagree and it's difficult to pinpoint. (And it's different for everyone anyway.)

important terms

Worn through.
People stood in line
People queued.
Early 20th
In his early 20s.
Mad geniuses
Mad genius.
Dedicated himself.
Suffered from severe depression
Suffered from severe depression.
Mental hospital
At long last
Kept him sane
Kept him sane.
Unconventional thinking
Thinking outside the box.