Art History 101

The 6 Most Inspiring Quotations from Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh is undoubtedly one of the most influential artists of the 20th Century. His bold, gestural brush strokes and emotive, often personal, subject matter inspired the Abstract Expressionists of the 1940s and 50s (Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollack to name a few) and had an undeniable impact on modern art.

Van Gogh is perhaps equally known for his personal struggles; as the quintessential misunderstood artistic genius. 

Though dealing with acute mental illness, the letters Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo Van Gogh often deal with the most universal pains of being an artist and a human being; self doubt, finding truth and beauty and matching one’s potential.  

Below we’ve compiled our favorite inspirational words from one of the world’s greatest creative souls:

1. “It is not only by one’s impulses that one achieves greatness, but also by patiently filing away the steel wall that separates what one feels from what one is capable of doing.”


2. “Exaggerate the essential, leave the obvious vague.”


3.“Be clearly aware of the stars and infinity on high. Then life seems almost enchanted after all.”


4. “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”


5. “There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.”


6. “Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.”


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About the Author

Caitlin Bray is the Senior Marketing Manager at Saatchi Art. She studied History and Art History at Yale University. Her mother is a fine artist and her dog is a mystery mutt named Louise.