How Van Goh’s Talent Points Us to God

We can learn so much from him.

A few years ago, my daughter and I ventured down to the Art Institute of Chicago to view a special exhibit of Van Gogh’s paintings. He is one of our favorite artists because because of his colorful moving works of art as well as his “scandalous” eccentric personality.

It is widely believed that he struggled with mental illness. That reality, combined with (or perhaps because of) his ability to see the divine intersect into the landscape of our everyday lives, resulted in his unique portrayal of the world.

His life story is fascinating and once you become aware of it, his pictures emerge as sacred messages of the way heaven intersects earth. We can hold onto the hope he held because in Van Gogh’s terms, we are “companions in sorrow.” He often pictured people in their wearied states in order to get the viewer to resonate with them.

But he always infused the image with hope.

Yellows, scenes (the “Sower”, orbital shapes (“the galaxy”), vibrant colors and strokes, and hints of light became venues of depicting that we are part of a bigger narrative. One that points to a Creator and Sustainer who interacts and watches over what is created.

Carol Berry, in her book Learning from Henri Nouwen and Vincent Van Gogh, writes, “Vincent, as a true contemplative, could see beyond the surface of things and reveal the metaphorical implications of the material world. He could sense the eternal message in the temporal. This is what he hoped to be able to convey through his art.”

Van Gogh’s talent incorporated all aspects of who God made him. He inspires us to not only see the landscape of our lives through the lens of our Creator but to come baring our souls to however we are called to God’s purposes.

How do you see the Divine in your view right now?

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2 thoughts on “How Van Goh’s Talent Points Us to God

  1. Cindy

    I would have never known this Stephanie without you sharing! Thank you for opening my eyes to look at his work in a new way! I truly see the Divine in the words offered by talented writers like you!

  2. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Now the auguries are grim;
    pain is heightened and refined.
    Chances are far worse than slim,
    and where the h*** is the Divine?
    I need some fair assurance
    that all may yet be well
    for I am far past my endurance
    and each night’s a living hell
    with dark borders that admit
    the demons of the lower places
    who demand that I be quit
    of the vain and futile graces
    that come from my distant God;
    but I will never give that nod.


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