Vincent and Theo: He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother…

The seven to ten years of Vincent van Gogh’s artistic career, the artist was supported by his younger brother Theodorus Van Gogh. Theo was a successful art dealer at Goupil & Cie Gallery in Paris. As the years ran on, Vincent could see the stress and challenge Theo was facing trying to support his wife, his son Vincent Willem Van Gogh, and his older brother Vincent. As Vincent moved into his later mid-30s, the weight shouldered by Theo began to take its toll on the artist.

Vincent became manic in his production of drawings, paintings, and letters to his brother Theo. We can read between the lines and see that the artist understood the task his brother Theo was trying to juggle. The artist continued to nurture his creative impulses while straining under the weight of being a burden—financially and emotionally on his brother Theo—and his letters became more and more melancholy in nature.

Apparently Vincent felt the only recourse to him was to be removed from the picture. In late July of 1890, Vincent shot himself in the abdomen. The wound was not immediately fatal. Vincent lived long enough for Theo to leave Paris and come to his bedside in Auvers-sur-Oise, France. Vincent literally died in Theo’s arms.

What Vincent didn’t realize in his melancholy state of mind, was how deeply Theo loved and admired his older brother Vincent. There are letters and correspondence with other family members where Theo expressed his challenge of feeding his family and supporting Vincent. But, deep down inside, Theo had a great love for his brother. It has long been believed that Theo, who had a very good eye for modernist art, felt his brother Vincent was gifted and would be successful as an artist/painter with time.

Theo’s love for Vincent was such that the younger brother could not emotionally offer a eulogy at Vincent’s funeral. Several weeks after Vincent was buried, Theo rented a room in Paris, invited family, artists, critics, patrons, and other, to hear his “belated” but emotionally charged eulogy. Phillip Stephens wrote a play called Van Gogh and Leonard Nimoy adapted the Stephens’ play into a traveling two-act, a one-person play called Vincent.

In the Nimoy play, the actor plays Theo and offers the younger brother’s insight and feeling for Vincent. In the second-act, Nimoy steps forward to the apron of the stage, looks out at the audience, and says: “When will you stop? When will you stop? What do you expect? What do you want your artists to be?…If the artist sacrifices his comfort, his strength, his very life to bring you his special vision of beauty to decorate your halls, must he also be dressed by your tailor”?

“…must he also be dressed by your tailor”? We talked about “What do you want your artists to be”? I now ask you: “must he also be dressed by your tailor”?

Photograph of Vincent and Theo Van Gogh

Published by: roberttracyphd

Academic professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. I teach theory courses in Art and Architecture History. In addition, I also curate exhibitions on campus as well as in other venues nationally and internationally.

33 Comments

33 thoughts on “Vincent and Theo: He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother…”

  1. With the misunderstanding of Vincent Van Goghs mental illness during this time period, his brother was the only person who every really understood him. Vincent was able to have a relationship with his brother that he was not able to have with anyone else. This relationship is how Theo helped Vincent have an outlet and push him to pursue his career in art, along with helping him cope. If it weren’t for this relationship, this grounding effect, Van Gogh probably wouldn’t have been nearly as successful, in staying level headed and concentrated during his artistic years. His brother Theo never wanted Vincent to change, he only wanted him to be happy. In the end, it is truly a Shakespearean kind of love story between brother and brother. A true tale of loyalty and support for one another.

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  2. “Must he also be dressed by your tailor?” My short and personal answer to this question is no. Not to say that all artists are tortured souls, but to some degree I think most artists can share that feeling of frustration and maybe pain that comes with creating a vision. To ask a professional artist, someone who has lived through the struggles and come out a more knowledgeable and wise artist, to look and act a certain way is a lot. My art is a definition of me so for someone to admire my art but ask me to change is almost insulting. On the other hand, maybe a lot of artists feel as though they need to project a persona out into the world that “the people” want to hear in order for their art to be understood. I think I could answer this question in many different ways, but overall I don’t think anyone should be forced to act or look a certain way.

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  3. Van Gogh went through so much just to be liked and loved by the viewers that I too, would of drawn myself to madness and depression. Do I want my artist to be dressed by my tailor? No. I don’t think any artist can be too perfect that he or she has to be the exact replica of what I want. I don’t want my artist to always feel the need to appease someone through their works. I don’t want an artist to sacrifice anything. I think organically you just can’t.

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  4. It’s so sad to learn that Vincent Van Gogh had felt like he was a burden his entire life to his family. It seems that Theo was doing his best to support Vincent in every way, even emotionally. Artists should be able to create what they want to create, and express themselves through their art. So, no, I do not think that they should “also be dressed by your (my) tailor”. Artists should have the freedom of being human just like everyone else.

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  5. “…must he also be dressed by your tailor”? No, changing yourself to better suit other people’s tastes isn’t a good thing. I don’t think it’s healthy for artists to reinvent themselves to fit someone else’s preferences in artists. It can stifle their creativity and passion for art. If they want to pander more to people’s interests and ideals to make more of a profit that’s fine but that’s up to the artist. Overall, I think artists need to be themselves, create what they want, the way they want, in their vision and not conform to someone else’s vision.

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  6. I am amazed that with the talent that Vincent and how small his recognition at the time was. His art is now something that is known so well around the world admired by so many artist and people alike its crazy to know that at one point in his life he believed himself to be a nuisances.

    Theo and vincent had such a unique connection and admiration with each other that I doubt the two knew how important each other were to one another. To know that after Vincent suicide Theo passed away from the sadness just shows the love these brothers had for each other. Granted with Vincent talent I honestly believe he wouldn’t have been as successful without having his brother to continue to push him. Sometimes we as artist get clouded by the two minute fame and I feel that is what might of triggered Vincent mental illness to react. I think what Theo said about Vincents art becoming popular thru time was really accurate. Now it is known by all artist and taught as a subject study in class.

    The quote in the play ” must he also be dressed by your tailor?” To me pushes that thought of must all artist be well dressed to be well known. I think this thought is represented in many way thru society. In order to be successful you must also have all the luxuries but in truth those with less can surprise you more than a man with all the riches.

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  7. Jonathan Quinones – Art 473

    Mental disorders are factors that have pushed a lot of artists to explore and express their inner thoughts and feelings through art. I have been a fan of Vincent Van Gogh for a long time. I still remember reading the nostalgic letters that describe the feeling of abandonment and the hope that Vincent had of being reunited with his family. The scene where Vincent dies in his brother’s arms reminds me of the scene where Jack dies in Ross’s arms at on Titanic.

    Medicine was not as advanced as it is nowadays and unfortunately mental illnesses were considered demonic possessions. Vincent’s brother supported him because he knew that his brother was so talented and someday his art would be exposed and admired in France. Artists need to obtain emotional and financial support from family and friends especially in those times where mental disorders are a struggle. Even though if Vincent would have been successful and rich he would have still been punished by the church. Art requires concentration and inspiration and I wish Vincent would have been able to experience a different world besides being locked up in a basement and created something different. I also think that Vincent was a wonderful poet.

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  8. No, I don’t believe an artist must also “be dressed by your tailor”. Unfortunately for Vincent in his time he did have to deal with everyone’s judgement. Having a mental illness might have affected his mental health, but it didn’t keep him from being human. He still had feelings, just with his illness it deepened those feelings. Maybe if he would have experienced today’s modern thinking he wouldn’t have been such a burden to his brother because he would most likely have that help he needs and the support for his work. Sadly, he didn’t get to experience that but I think in modern society most people can agree that one’s work is not determined by their status or mental health, unless you’re a terrible person who says/does bad things then that’s the exception.

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  9. Reading about Vincent life story and relationship with his brother is very compelling. The emotion and love that the two brothers shared for each other is quite impressive. As a person that has always been interested in learning about artists, the aspect I always found most fascinating about Vincent was the connection between his mental state and his artwork. It is amazing to me that with all the burdens that were forced upon him as well as the mental state that he was in, he was still able to create such amazing artwork. To answer the question about should we be dressed by the tailor, no I don’t believe we should. Why let others decide on the outcome of our work. We as artists are free to make our own decisions, we are empowered to do whatever we want without any boundaries to stop us. That is the beauty of it all and this is something that Vincent understood. Yes, he was going through difficult situations but he did not let that stop him from creating magnificent pieces of art.

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  10. Reading about Vincent life story and relationship with his brother is very compelling. The emotion and love that the two brothers shared for each other is quite impressive. As a person that has always been interested in learning about artists, the aspect I always found most fascinating about Vincent was the connection between his mental state and his artwork. It is amazing to me that with all the burdens that were forced upon him as well as the mental state that he was in, he was still able to create such amazing artwork. To answer the question about should we be dressed by the tailor, no I don’t believe we should. Why let others decide the outcome of our work. We as artists are free to make our own decisions, we are empowered to do whatever we want without any boundaries to stop us. That is the beauty of it all and this is something that Vincent understood. Yes, he was going through difficult situations but he did not let that stop him from creating magnificent pieces of art.

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  11. After watching the video and finishing the readings, I am able to learn more about Vincent’s life. The part that impressed me the most is the bonding between him and Theo. Not just to Vincent’s time, even to today’s standard, Vincent’s personality is significantly different from the mainstream. He has no direction or plans in life, he has no will of compromising either. These traits make it harder for him to have a better life. His delusional reality make it difficult for people to understand him. In the end, his unaccomplished life makes him miserable. His family doesn’t welcome him, his friend leaves him. Yet, he has Theo and his talent. His talent is too great so he is distinctively different, luckily he has Theo who understands him.

    I found this website, it sorts out some of the letters that expresses Vincent’s thoughts : https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/12/01/van-gogh-purpose-letter/. We can see he is very well educated, his thoughts are organized. One of the quotes that impressive me the most is that he notice his flaws, but he is not bothered by it so much. In this quote, he sees his idleness as a place for creativity:
    “Such idling is really a rather strange sort of idling. It’s rather difficult for me to defend myself on this score, but I would be sorry if you couldn’t eventually see this in a different light. I also don’t know if I would do well to counter such accusations by following the advice to become a baker, for example. That would really be a sufficient answer (supposing it were possible for us to assume the guise of a baker or hair-cutter or librarian with lightning speed) and yet actually a foolish response, rather like the way the man acted who, when accused of heartlessness because he was sitting on a donkey, immediately dismounted and continued on his way with the donkey on his shoulders.”

    After reading this quote, I cannot help but wonder if he has a better family, brought up by the rich, he will have a more comfortable life. He can do whatever he wants, his creativity will expand without the worry of life. In our life, we are pushed by the society to be successful, hardworking, have a stable job, and have a family. Sometimes we feel anxious if we haven’t accomplished a lot. On the other hand, it is delightful to see how Vincent is not bothered by idleness. It makes me sad that Vincent cannot keep this kind of joy in the rest of his life. The burden of life troubles him too much.

    All in all, to answer the question at the end of the post. I want my artist to be the way they are. Their true identity makes up their art. On the other hand, I do wish Vincent had a better life, it hurts my heart to see such a talented person have to live his life in melancholy. I think he can still make great art without his depression.

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  12. To answer the question, “Must he also be dressed by your tailor?” I will say no. During Vincent Van Gogh’s time, his Art was underappreciated, not accepted and even ridiculed. But now, look how revered his artwork is and how iconic his work is because we all can recognize and distinguish Van Vogh’s work. He poured his emotions and his feelings into his art and it shows. When it comes to our tailors, yes we can fit their needs to a certain extent, but ultimately we should be able to express ourselves freely because Art is supposed to be independent not contained.

    The dynamic between Vincent and Theo is hard to read about and I believe Theo shortly passed away not 6 months later after Vincent, just because he was depressed and couldn’t handle living without his brother. He never thought of him as a burden and to see the support and the love they had for one another is something so fascinating and important for us to truly understand.

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  13. I found confusion in the question, must he also be dressed by your tailor? The reason why is because there is no definition give, so it is up to interpretation, does it mean must the artist change their work to suit the buyer’s demands. Or does the artist need to present themselves, not their work, in a professional manner?
    To my first interpretation, no, and yes, depending on the artist, for some, their painting style is everything to them. I personally want to see artists that create works that improve, demonstrate, or inspire aspects of our lives. So if an artist is not having luck with their technique, they should not give up on it but adjust and look to other aspects of how they can communicate their work to the public. To my second interpretation, yes, artists are professionals, although they are a creative profession, so they don’t necessarily need to wear a suit and tie. They do need to represent their work in a manner that demonstrates why they should be respected for all the hard, difficult, and even emotional effort their job demands.

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  14. This strangely hits close to home since there are a lot of similarities in quite a few uncomfortable areas but opposites in some. Since everyone seems to be hitting on the quote “… must he also be dressed by your tailor?”, I’ll also have a quick say about this as well. Theo is giving insight to the audience of Vincent. Why does the artist need to bend and conform into what the people want him to be? Why can’t the artist just be an artist? Why shouldn’t his expressions represent the things on his heart? I’m sorry if I get a little off topic here, but having to be the only person to defend your brother is amazingly stressful. And Theo’s insights asks the question, not once, but twice.
    When will it stop?
    Going back onto topic, Theo’s insights were pointing out the reactions of what people still do even today. Where everything needs to be done in a certain way, or you’re not going to succeed. How that shouldn’t be the case. Defeat after defeat, Vincent fell into a dark place, and Theo did what he could. But surely there are many more who are stuck like Vincent, without a Theo as well.

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  15. As far as what I want my artists to be, a unique perspective or a unique view that communicates their perspective is what I look for. I want the art to embody what the artist behind it stands for, a reflection of the artist’s mind and personality. Essentially, I am drawn to art that is personal. So, that being said, I do not believe the artist should be “dressed by your tailor,” because if every artist did that, no one would be making art of their own. No one would be making art of passion, art of pain, art drawn by emotion; everyone would be making trendy, generic art that might sell quickly and appease an audience but does not fulfill the artist themself. Everyone would be making relatively the same thing and art would never progress. After all, new “trends” in art come from people pushing boundaries; for example if we think about how art styles evolved from renaissance paintings to impressionism to surrealism to minimalism, we will see that we are only where we are now due to artists pushing new ideas, and standing their ground against what people typically wanted at the time. Trends come go, so when they go, there must be another trend to take its place. With no artists pushing boundaries, this cycle will quickly die, or be filled with recycled trends, which will in turn stunt the growth of the art world.

    Commissioned art is where a careful balance between the artist and the “tailor,” if you will, must be considered. Here, the tailor will ideally present a concept and offer suggestions along the way. However, ideally they will have commissioned the artist due to their style and portfolio, and will have enough trust in them to deliver. In my opinion, it should feel more collaborative than one holding too much power or influence over the other.

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  16. Theo is truly a supportive and caring brother, giving financial and emotional support to Vincent. It would burden Theo, but he was willing to bare it so that his brother could pursue his dreams and be happy. It also did not help that Theo was quite literally the only one who understood and accepted Vincent for who he was. It is quite heartbreaking to know that after Vincent committed suicide, Theo was so racked with grief that he couldn’t continue to live life without the brother he greatly loved and admired.

    To answer the question: “must he also be dressed by your tailor”? My answer to that is no, barring a few exceptions and compromises. Artists should be free to express their creativity, ideas, identity, and so on without being ridiculed or insulted for it. Society can be a harsh enemy for many artists. Usually, there is pressure that an artist’s work is not “original” or that it is bad because no one understands the work immediately. If it does not cater to society’s interests, they are quick to be dismissive of an artist and their work. Artists are human just like everyone else. We all have our own interests, quirks, habits, behaviors, etc. Artists are being made the outcast because they are the ones putting themselves out there through their works. As for exceptions and compromises, Clara makes a good and compelling point about commissioned art being a “careful balance between the artist and the tailor”. That it should be a collaborative relationship instead of a one-sided one.

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  17. I often hear about the tragic faith of Vincent’s life, but his brother Theo also had a hard time. I can only imagine the guilt he must’ve held when realized his brother Vincent felt like a burden to him and for this reason he wanted to be gone, and that Theo thought so too at some points of his life when his economic situation was though. About the question, I want my artists to be passionate on what they work on, for any reason they have, they should make what they believe in. If they are as committed as Nimoy recites, why would we depreciate it by trying to mold it to our taste? I’ve always believed that each artist’s artistic expression would have at least one other person who would love it too, then it would be just a matter of keep looking for our artistic matches. It’s the uniqueness of their self-expression what makes it worth it. Therefore, instead of tearing the rose from the ground to make it ours, we should leave it there where it’s beautiful, where it won’t wither.

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  18. Vincent Van Gogh’s mental and physical health have shaped how he’s lived and worked. I cannot imagine how much of a burden he must have felt. It seemed like no one understood his passion and how deeply he felt things even in romantic relationships and his work. While his relationships did not work out, it seemed like he secluded and punished himself. I can relate this to his work and his situation. A lot of times, it feels like no matter how hard I try to pursue and portray, no one will understand how I feel deep down inside.

    So no, I don’t think Van Gogh should have done anything differently and be told to change and do commercial art that would sell. It was truly a tragedy that that no one saw the value of his art, even the depressive ones. He should not have to be told what to do by patrons and his art and talent should be able to shine through.

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  19. “ Must he also be dressed by your tailor” my answer is no. Talented artists aren’t born into this world with a ton of support. Some artists are blessed with better circumstances than others, but it shouldn’t define one’s art.

    It is hard to not be acknowledged by the work you put so much effort and time on. I think all artists go through that at some point. Imposter syndrome happens to everyone and I can’t imagine how Vincent felt with all his battles.

    However he was fortunate to have a brother that loved him and supported him financially. Society pushes a certain criteria for people to follow and once you go against it and pursue your passion it’s frowned upon. It’s frowned upon to take a leap of faith and sacrifice everything you have for your dreams. Vincent’s heart was in the right place. Theo understood Vincent and he always had faith in his brother. Their bond was beautiful and I admire that. It is also not a bad thing to accept help from others and I can understand Vincent’s feelings of being a financial burden to his brother. People are so quick to judge and I think all artists have a right to be who they are and express themselves freely.

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  20. This is rather sad to read, to hear how much Theo truly loved his brother, yet Vincent loved him just as much, if not more, so he took his own life thinking it would lighten the burden on Theo. A true tragedy. Feeling like a burden can heavily impact someone’s mental well-being, so unfortunately I understand how this lead to Vincent killing himself. I believe the answer to “must he be dressed by your tailor?” is a solid no. Artists create their best work when being themselves, and any art created trying to achieve something completely different is disingenuous, especially when imposed by someone else. Being boxed in never feels good, and why must we, as artists, feel the need to accommodate someone else’s wants when art is our expression? (Of course being commissioned is completely different, but this is in regards to just existing and creating as one’s true self.) The artist can struggle and make many a sacrifice to achieve their own creative vision, which helps to emphasize to let one do as they please as they’ve already sacrificed enough.

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  21. Although Van Gogh is a well-known artist from his paintings and loved by so many viewers, I believe it cannot be compared to the love the artist and his brother, Theo, had towards each other. It always makes me sad to hear these stories because there are always friends, family, and love behind the amazing work many artists have left. “Must an artist also be dressed by your(my) tailor”? No. I believe that no artist was born with a pencil in his hand; he was a man before an artist. Thus, although I understand the burden of Van Gogh and other artists have for support and love from their families, I believe that giving an obligation that they “must” dressed by one’s tailor is giving another burden to a humankind.

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  22. During Vincent’s time of societal changes and taboos on mental health, it must have taken a toll on his brother as being his source of assistance. Theo and Vincent’s relationship was an unconditional love that not everyone experiences, however, the burden of Vincent’s condition would impact that bond. In the quote “…must he be dressed by your tailor”, I believe Nimoy is suggesting is how much more can an artist sacrifice in order to conform. I agree with the fact that the artist, or anyone, can be who they choose to be, however taking responsibility should be prioritized if that individual chooses so. I personally cannot relate to Vincent’s genius, but Theo grounded Vincent in order for the both of them to survive which I feel is valuable. The unfortunate circumstance of Vincent distancing himself then later killing himself is truly sorrowful. The agony Vincent had felt was only later transferred to his brother’s post mortem. Only if they both knew that the future would appreciate Vincent’s works.

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  23. During Vincent’s time of societal changes and taboos on mental health, it must have taken a toll on his brother as being his source of assistance. Theo and Vincent’s relationship was an unconditional love that not everyone experiences, however, the burden of Vincent’s condition would impact that bond. In the quote “…must he be dressed by your tailor”, I believe Nimoy is suggesting is how much more can an artist sacrifice in order to conform to society. I agree with the fact that the artist, or anyone, can be who they choose to be, however taking responsibility should be prioritized if that individual chooses so. I personally cannot relate to Vincent’s genius, but Theo grounded Vincent in order for the both of them to survive which I feel is valuable. The unfortunate circumstance of Vincent distancing himself then later killing himself is truly sorrowful. The agony Vincent had felt was only later transferred to his brother’s post mortem. Only if they both knew that the future would appreciate Vincent’s works.

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  24. My answer to that question is no. I try to isolate someone’s talent from his or her personality and behavior. Most of the artists that I am familiar with, had eccentric personalities. They have been known to find their inspirations through their eccentricities. I believe that being different is a means of expression itself and that there is no talent without it. The most famous artworks in the world are based off of the artist’s emotions from their life’s most significant moments. That is what gives unique authenticity to their masterpieces.

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  25. Having read about Vincent and Theo’s love for one another and how both of them perished because one felt as if he was a burden, and the other not being able to live without his older brother, hit me with some intense feelings of emotion since I have a younger brother that I deeply love as well. Although he was disregarded and criticized by everyone throughout his life, Theo still looked up to and admired his older brother Vincent. Sadly, I understand why Vincent’s mental health would start to deteriorate with the constant amount of criticism. Vincent’s life and death are truly a tragedy.

    I believe that my answer to the question, “must he also be dressed by your tailor?” would have to also be no. Artists are free to express and paint whatever they wish; that is one of the beauties of art. Yes, one could make changes in their styles to better suit the public’s’ views, but most of the artists that have painted what they truly wanted were the ones that had their pieces be able to transcend past their careers. Art can be beautiful when it’s something that is aimed towards a specific audience too, but the pieces that show raw emotion and expressions are the ones that I feel impact the people the greatest and leave the longest impressions.

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  26. The story of Vincent and Theo is especially emotional when you have a personal understanding of how sibling bonds work. It’s sad that Vincent felt as a burden to his brother despite his brother’s unconditional love and support, yet I can see where that misunderstanding and almost self-loathing can come from. To answer the question, I do not think the artist “must [he] also be dressed by your tailor.” Artists should have the freedom to create what they want and be who they are because art is such a personal thing. No artist should ever feel as though they owe something to their viewers or as though they must change who they are to be interpreted positively.

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  27. Leonard Nimoy’s quote in his play Vincent is a pretty profound way of thinking about artists, especially those like Vincent Van Gogh. Not all, but lots of artists put so much of themselves into their work. Being so open and vulnerable is very taxing, but it becomes worth it to put something beautiful out in the world that is also a part of you. Artists can’t do this if they are too busy conforming themselves to what the world wants them to be i.e. “Must he also be dressed by your tailor?”. You lose that piece of uniqueness that allows you to create this work that the world is also demanding of you. It’s impossible to do both. You can’t be expected to think and create uniquely and conform to what the world wants so you can be normal and fit in. I struggle with that juxtaposition whenever I try to make art. I grew up in a family who never emphasized art. There was no art in the house, and my family’s only concern was normal and appearing normal even when there were many problems. The first time I was even exposed to the current art world outside of art class was a year before high school, and even then it was framed as a bad, weird thing.

    People are scared of things that they don’t readily understand. That sentiment is as true now as it was in the late 1800s. The only way that Vincent would have been successful in his own lifetime would have been if he never experimented with his art. If he had been the cookie cutter artist he would have had “more” success. Even then, his mental state would have led to the downfall of those particular successes. So the answer to the question, in an ideal world, is no. It is unacceptable to expect an artist to conform to the ideals of the viewer while being expected to create their own special vision of beauty that the viewer appreciates. However, in our very less than ideal world, I believe that the answer to the question is yes. He must also be dressed by your tailor. That the viewer so often times isn’t ready for something unless it is framed by their view and their view only.

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  28. Leonard Nimoy’s oration to the audience of Van Gogh is a painfully accurate projection of the dismal reality in which Vincent van Gogh spent the remainder of his life. This plea of Nimoy’s brings to light the fierce judgement we must all come face-to-face with as creatives, and in the case of Van Gogh, it crippled both his spirit and his will to live. I can certainly empathize with and understand the artist’s feelings of rejection and failure brought on by the vitriolic opinions of the general public, as I, too, have dealt with such criticism. With regard to Nimoy’s ultimate question to the playgoers, I say that no, an artist should not be “dressed by your tailor.” Art is inherently subjective, and as such, we must judge works of art so. In the case of Vincent van Gogh, one who poured his heart and soul into the pieces he created, the relentless opinions of the general public drove him to the edge and into obscurity. It was only until his tragic story was heard that he became the renowned figure he is today, and if not for the creatives whose passion and purpose are met with similar disregard, we must view art differently for him—for Vincent.

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  29. Artists give a part of themselves up for artistry and then are expected to fit into the molds of society. It’s kind of paradoxical, because by asking an admired artist to be someone they are not would make it so they couldn’t successfully create the art that made them admired in the first place. When asking, “…must he also be dressed by your tailor”, the answer should be no, but living in a society where being a pariah and not conforming to what is considered ‘ideal’ still affects many artists today just as it affected Van Gogh. Art stems from human expression, and doing anything to change or affect the way artists can express themselves would be detrimental to the way they can create art.

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  30. I take this as meaning: must the artist conform to the conventions of society? It’s difficult to imagine a time when artists were not commonly, or even expected to be, outlandish and operating within the fringes of the community. Vincent seems to be among the first to characterize our perception of an artist today. It seems like the decision (or impulse) to make art is so strange in our wealth-driven world that it is understood that only a strange person would choose to be an artist. A weirdo and a rebel is the artist. A rebel for understanding that those with money dictate what gets done in the world and rejecting it, deciding for themselves what to create or change. I would say most people today would agree that an artist should not be expected to dress, speak, live or fall in line with any cultural norms. It is not a normal thing to be an artist, a disruptor of expectation and society.

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  31. I associate the phrase “being dressed by a tailor” is giving materialistic privileges to the artists to change their message to provide society with what they want. I don’t think any artist wants to be dressed by a tailor because they don’t sacrifice their comfort or strength to be a product of society. If a tailor dressed vincent, he wouldn’t feel the pain or suffering that helps make his art because of the dresses’ illusion. I believe Van Gogh aimed to express his struggles in life and be understood in his art, not to be a puppet.

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  32. To be dressed by a tailor to me sounds like making Vincent conform to all that the rest of the world wants him to do and be. For his younger brother to be the only one who tried and was able to understand him is rather sad. His mental illness and impact on others made him feel like such a burden on the world and his brother was the only comfort and outlet he had. My sister has special needs and I have to help her in many ways just like Theo did for Vincent so I understand what i must have been like for them.

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  33. Arron Adams
    Art 473-1001
    It seems to me that something Vincent Van Gogh struggled with was that he only really saw the criticisms, only really heard the negative opinions of others, and was largely blind to the positive things of those who liked him. It seems to be something that many people struggle with – not just artists – yet other can struggle with the opposite, only seeing themselves in a positive light. I think it is important to find some kind of balance between these two extremes, and unfortunately Vincent never found that balance.
    As far as the question of “must he also be dressed by your tailor,” I think that that is up to the individual artist, and not really something for me to say.

    Like

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