Van Gogh – Challenging the 'Tortured Genius' Myth | Tate

We explore how it is no longer useful to think of Vincent van Gogh’s talent as a result of his poor mental health.

This video contains language used by Van Gogh to describe his mental health. The way we speak about mental health has progressed since then and is always developing the more we understand.

This video was produced in collaboration with Mind, a charity that supports those with mental health problems.

If you are affected by the content of this video please visit Mind’s resources page for more information and support:

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21 Kommentare

  • singlespies

    Vincent is one of my very favorite artists. I do believe his condition is inextricably bound up with his paintings, though. We couldn't have had one without the other.

  • Mary Blogg

    🦋🐻🐱🌟🌜 Just Want 2 Remember He Was So Very Talented… 🦋🌟 If This Video HELPS Anyone, That's Positive… 🌟🌜🦋🐻🐱🌟

  • MAVASA * Ramesh S

    Sanity is a comparative understanding of one with the rest of the population , 🤔How would you say we r all saine.? WE ,the people of the world fought 2 world wars ,killed each other in great efficiency. With global warming Heated up and Destroyed the workings of this planet .
    Yet we , each one of us ,r MAD enough to claim that we r sain and that the geniuses of Vincent as mad , shame upon us

  • Jenny Hughes

    From what you say here (paralysis etc. – first tie I've heard that) it sounds like he had neurological/brain (physical) problems – but at that time these (including epilepsy until recently – and maybe still in some countries?) weren't understood and so were said to be 'madness'. The same is true now (I read): many obviously neurological illness/injury/disease are STILL said to be 'mental health problems' = because of doctors' ignorance, that it's easy to 'diagnose' instead of doing expensive tests which many don't have insurance cover for – but also if insured the insurers prefer these 'diagnoses' = cheaper – and I think some policies don't cover 'mental health' – though how on earth you can (and why would you want to) separate mental and physical health must be impossible because the brain controls not only the whole body but also our thoughts and feelings. Some people become 'savants' (genius) after a brain injury (and illness/disease), some people discover/achieve unusual strengths in art, music , maths etc. after a stroke or other brain injury = maybe Vincent had one of these things happen to his brain but at that time no understanding of how eg viruses can affect the brain and no MRIs and just said to be 'mad'. His great art was a product of him and his brain, result: genius! Got to stop: getting scrambled due to my brain injury!

  • Cedar Raine

    We will never know what Van Gogh was experiencing in the mechanism of his mind. Most of us don’t really even have much of an understanding of the patterns and movements of our own minds.

  • Leigh Foulkes

    After reading Vincent's letters to his brother Theo, I can't but get the impression that he was a sane genius. I just feel that he suffered from depression and anxiety attacks. He put too much pressure onto himself. I also wonder if heavy drinking of Absinthe hurt him too.

  • Alex Campion

    who doesn't love being told what mental illness is and is not by people who don't suffer from it themselves? it's for similar reasons that i go around explaining to people what LSD is having never actually tripped myself. doesn't matter, though–i mean well.

  • SleepyE

    its not a myth. its fact. from my own experience my best work as an artist was made when i was experiencing the most pain. it drives me to push harder than i did before

  • Julian I

    I don't think it's a myth. Anyone who is sensitive and hyper-aware knows that it's the source of a lot of torment. I don't think anyone unfamiliar with deep despair can make any art with existential depth and meaning.
    Ever noticed that all the people you come across and REALLY admire, or courageous or kind-hearted are people who are or have been through very hard things? Everything of value, everything meaningful is made through struggle. And the greater the struggle, the greater the art.
    I don't think that reduces him to his illness. I think it tells a story of the triumph of meaning and beauty through overcoming tragedy. That's the story of the whole world. That is what justifies life, art and love.

  • Paradigm Arson

    I think high open-ness to ideas and experience is necessary for creativity but also tends to cause mental illness, particularly when combined with neuroticism. This suggests that both the 'torture' and the 'genius' are caused by a common variable (trait 'openness') but are not directly causally linked themselves.

  • Ngai Jonathan

    My wife has been suffering mental issue since young, it is not something that can be easily overcome or even cured I don't think, it is an extremely difficult life, and being the normal one seeing the loved suffering is even more difficult to endure, there is little support due to lack of understanding by the normal society what the person is going through. There is no logic or common sense when an episode occurs, merely chaos, depression and anxiety. It is worse than death but I will never give up and hope one day she will get better. The cause of her mental issue is due to parental divorce when young. I want to use this opportunity to raise the awareness that marriage is not just business between two persons, but a huge responsibility and there may be life lasting impact to your offspring

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