Vincent van Gogh

Van Gogh Self PortraitVincent van Gogh lived and worked in Provence only briefly: for just over a year towards the end of his life. But he produced his very greatest art in this short time, in an incredible burst of creative fervour.

If you want to explore Provence in Vincent’s footsteps, you'll find the main sites in Arles and in nearby Saint Rémy de Provence.

Click here to read about a self-guided walk through Arles, where you can discover Café Terrace at Night and other scenes he painted, and compare them to them as they are today.

Click here to find out about the Fondation Vincent van Gogh, an art foundation in Arles inspired by his spirit. It doesn't own any of his work in its permanent collection but always has at least one painting on loan, and a larger exhibition devoted to him each summer.

van gogh walk saint remyIn Saint Rémy, the go-to site is Saint Paul de Mausole, the monastery turned psychiatric clinic where the tormented artist fled in a vain search for inner peace.

Saint Rémy also has its own self-guided walk through the surrounding countryside, pictured, past the olive groves and other landscapes van Gogh painted there.

And, if you're in Avignon, don't miss the Musée Angladon. It owns one of the very few paintings by van Gogh on permanent display in Provence – and a very fine piece it is too.

Newswillem dafoe vincent van goghThe great American actor Willem Dafoe, pictured, plays Vincent in a new film shot partly on location in Arles and set at the troubled and tragic period at the end of the artist's life.

Called At Eternity's Gate, it had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival in 2018 prior to opening in North America. It will be released internationally over the next few months.

The Hollywood Reporter singled out "the febrile intensity Dafoe brings to the central role. With his craggy features and piercing blue eyes peering out from under a battered straw hat, he fully evokes the van Gogh we know so intimately from self-portraits."

The director is the painter turned film-maker Julian Schnabel, who describes At Eternity's Gate as "a film about painting and a painter and their relationship to infinity.

"It is told by a painter. It contains what I felt were essential moments in his life, this is not the official history — it's my version. One that I hope could make you closer to him."

Schnabel has previously made movies about other doomed artists. They include Jean-Michel Basquiat in the film of the same name; the gay Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas (in Before Night Falls); and Jean-Dominique Bauby, a writer who suffered from locked-in syndrome, in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, which was nominated for four Oscars. You can view the trailer for At Eternity's Gate here.

And that's not all. Released last year, the animated film Loving Vincent brings van Gogh’s paintings to life and explores the mystery surrounding his suicide.

Four years in the making, it takes some of the most famous works created by van Gogh in the last year of his life and makes them move.

Every one of its nearly 65,000 frames has been hand painted in oils in the style of the Dutch master, drawing you into his hallucinatory world.

Starry Night over the Rhone and Café Terrace at Night are among the famous paintings – many of them done in Arles or Saint Rémy de Provence – which are reproduced and animated in the movie.

The story is a sort of detective thriller. A young man who sat for Vincent is on a mission to find out what drove the artist to suicide in the space of just a few weeks. He talks to a whole range of people whom van Gogh met during this period to solve the mystery.

Loving Vincent looks technically really impressive, as you can see from the trailer, and we found the story behind van Gogh's tormented last year compelling. The film is now available on DVD and you can buy it here.

Click here to buy The Letters of Vincent van Gogh, here to buy The Yellow House by the art critic Martin Gayford, an account of van Gogh's tumultuous nine weeks in Arles with Paul Gauguin, here to buy Van Gogh's Ear by Bernadette Murphy, a new look at the facts behind the notorious ear-severing incident and here to buy Starry Night: Van Gogh at the Asylum, a heart-breaking insight into the everyday details of the artist's final year.

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