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View Full Version : Why did Vicent Van Gogh cut off his ear?


meepins
06-25-2005, 01:09 AM
I've heard/read numerous versions of this story. But I have no clue which one is the true story!
Can someone briefly tell me why Van Gogh cut off his ear? (The real version!)

Thanks!

leftyfallat
06-25-2005, 01:10 AM
He was insane

Invid
06-25-2005, 01:13 AM
He cut off his ear to give to his love to prove his devotion to her, and yes a little insane :D

SpeccySteve
06-25-2005, 01:14 AM
Ears are surprisingly heavy, it weighed upon his creativity.

Unfortunately for Vinny the video camera had not yet been invented, if it had he would surely have been hailed as the new Genius of performance art.

Katinka
06-25-2005, 05:32 AM
I read a small biography about him. It said that the previous day he had been arguing with his friend Gaugin about the painting Gaugin had painted of him. Van Gogh insisted that Gaugin had painted him as insane. He said Gaugin something like "It's me but I'm insane". Vincent was suffering from depression caused by lack of proper food and unhealthy lifestyle. No-one can actually say why he cut his ear off but the fight with Gaugin must have driven him deeper into depression and self hatred.

THX
06-25-2005, 03:33 PM
He had a constant ringing noise in his ears cause by bouts of seizure.

voodoofactory
06-25-2005, 03:49 PM
Uhm... but he didn't actually cut off his ear. He only cut his earlobe. Still not quite healthy, but better than cutting off the whole ear.

Margie
06-25-2005, 08:01 PM
@Katinka, that is more or less what seems to have happened. But I think it is more complicated than that. Van Gogh showed signs of instability long before he cut off part of his ear after the fight with Gauguin. I know that because I have read many of the letters he wrote to his brother Theo and two of his friends. He also drank a lot of absinthe. Absinthe of the 19th century contained a small dose of digitalis "to strengthen the heart". When taken in large quantities, digitalis is poisonous. It causes blurred vision and seeing halo's (like in Starry Night), intestinal cramps and lack of apetite (which is probably another reason why Van Gogh was malnourished).

In proper medicine, digitalis is given to people with a irregular heartbeat, but not to people suffering from depression, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia and any other mental illness.
Nobody knows for sure what was wrong with Van Gogh. Some say (temporal lobe) epilepsy, some say schizophrenia. Seems to me that his abuse of absinthe worsened whatever illness he had.

IanE
06-25-2005, 08:13 PM
He had a constant ringing noise in his ears cause by bouts of seizure.

I heard in my art history class it was because of certain chemicals in the paint that caused him to have a ringing in his ear after years of exposure to the chemical. But yes.

jmBoekestein
06-26-2005, 02:14 AM
Are you kidding me? :surprised, does this actually belong on an art discussion forum? To whom as an artist does this matter in self betterment?

He did because HE WAS NOT on top of himself...I mean...ok....whatever...


edit: and why do you expect people having been born way past his ' bedtime' to know this?

vijil
06-26-2005, 12:12 PM
art and craziness seem to go hand in hand... being a brilliant artist requires that one is somewhat detached from reality, perhaps more so than average. I know I am (the detached part, not the brilliance :p )

You could say that better art = more crazy, and so it was inevitable that he'd do something silly eventually!

I'm with spence though, I'm sure he was doing it because the act would incite a response, thus defining it as a special breed of experimental art. Art is purely subjective anyway, so it's not like this was any worse than any of his other works.

o_O

stepington
06-26-2005, 07:42 PM
More importantly - why did Travis Bickle shave off his hair and give himself a mohawk?

DimensionalPunk
06-26-2005, 10:09 PM
More importantly - why did Travis Bickle shave off his hair and give himself a mohawk?

Because the punk inside him finally broke out.

Bourbon Thret
06-27-2005, 05:10 AM
More importantly - why did Travis Bickle shave off his hair and give himself a mohawk?

some film critics say this was a reference to john fords 'the searchers', where john wayne plays a cowboy trying to 'save' his neice from native americans who had kidnapped her. in taxi driver its reversed, bickle 'becomes' a mohican when he shaves his head, and saves iris from the pimp.

there is also a scene just before this where he drives past a cinema playing 'texas chainsaw massacre', which signifies the jump the film makes from slow burn drama to horror film.

there are so many layers to that film. i studied it in university back in the day and its been a favourite since as long as i remember.

Vojislav+Milanovic
06-27-2005, 10:12 PM
@katinka Yeah, his biography says about him and Gaugin. I've read it few years ago.
I've heard that story about long term absinth usage and "green fairy"
@vijil No, art and craziness don't to go hand in hand. They never did. It's a common misunderstanding of artists and world they (and we) live in.

Vincent surely went a bit "off". But for my point of view that's abolutely understandable when you take a look his work and (more importantly) his life. Never sold a painting, never get recognition, life in pain, hunger etc. Who can preserve sanity!?

LightKirtar
06-30-2005, 01:57 AM
He cut it off to give to his gf. Personnaly, id just get her flowers.

ashakarc
06-30-2005, 03:17 AM
He cut it off to give to his gf. Personnaly, id just get her flowers.
Yeh, it's a kind of a gift that has double meaning, first, he is telling her that he is ready to sacrifice for her even his ear, but to himself, he is saying, yeh, now she can't nag on me anymore!!

character
06-30-2005, 09:43 PM
why not?! that's why!

Spater
06-30-2005, 09:58 PM
publicity stunt, see it's working because we're talking about it.:D

LightKirtar
07-02-2005, 08:25 AM
Haha, brilliant idea. That way youll be set for the rest of your life. "Wash the dishes? Wash the dishes!? I cut off my ear!!"

cas888
07-03-2005, 04:19 PM
In Vincent's time some of the paint was toxic, particularly the chrome yellow that he favored. Van Gogh usually held one paintbrush in his mouth while painting - inhaling and swallowing the toxins.

That is believed to be the cause of his mental illness and delusions, leading to his decision to slice his ear.

There's a little more in an article here: http://iatwm.com/200309/VanGogh/index.html

and if you want to see a self-portrait, ear intact, it's here: http://iatwm.com/200411/index.html

archerx
07-03-2005, 05:47 PM
it could have been a shaving accident... and he just said that it was for his love so that he didn't look stupid... but oh well who knows ?

THX
07-03-2005, 10:55 PM
In Vincent's time some of the paint was toxic, particularly the chrome yellow that he favored. Van Gogh usually held one paintbrush in his mouth while painting - inhaling and swallowing the toxins.

That is believed to be the cause of his mental illness and delusions, leading to his decision to slice his ear.

There's a little more in an article here: http://iatwm.com/200309/VanGogh/index.html

and if you want to see a self-portrait, ear intact, it's here: http://iatwm.com/200411/index.html


++
i remeber in a vincent van gogh biopic, cant remember name, but he was eating tubes of paint, it probaly wasnt meant to be funny, but it was hilarious

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