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Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear
Waldemar Januszczak sets out to uncover the secret meanings hidden in four famous paintings by Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cezanne and Seurat. Everyone knows the pictures. They are among the most celebrated masterpieces of art. And yet, hidden inside them are codes and puzzles that no one has been able to decipher.
Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear was painted soon after he cut off his ear with a razor. But how much do we really know about it? In a far-ranging investigation, Waldemar Januszczak delves into the clues hidden in the painting. The result is a tale of geishas, brothels, bullfights, love affairs, suffering and a fiery relationship with Gauguin. The work has a powerful secret message, if you know what to look for.
The Art Mysteries
Van Gogh Painted with Words
Drama-documentary presented by Alan Yentob, with Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead role as Van Gogh. Every word spoken by the actors in this film is sourced from the letters that Van Gogh sent to his younger brother Theo, and of those around him. What emerges is a complex portrait of a sophisticated, civilised and yet tormented man. The film won a Rockie for Best Arts Documentary at the Banff World Media Festival in 2011, receiving critical acclaim for its fascinating insight into the life of the artist and its unique approach to storytelling.
Born in Groot-Zundert, The Netherlands, Van Gogh spent his early life as an art dealer, teacher and preacher in England, Holland and Belgium. His period as an artist began in 1881 when he chose to study art in Brussels, starting with watercolours and moving quickly on to oils. The French countryside was a major influence on his life and his early work was dominated by sombre, earthy colours depicting peasant workers, the most famous of which is The Potato Eaters, 1885. It was during Van Gogh's studies in Paris (1886-8) that he developed the individual style of brushwork and use of colour that made his name. In 1888 he moved to Arles where the Provençal landscape provided his best-known subject matter. However, it also marked the start of his mental crisis following an argument with his contemporary Paul Gauguin. Van Gogh was committed to a mental asylum in 1889 where he continued to paint, but he committed suicide in 1890.
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