How Do We Move Forward When Life Seems So Upsetting?

Vincent van Gogh was a very productive painter whose works of art are now among the most-valuable in the world. During his lifetime, however, Vincent is believed to have sold only one painting.

He once told Theo, his brother:   “I can't change the fact that my paintings don't sell. But the time will come when people will recognize that they are worth more than the value of the paints used in the picture.”

Do you think that Vincent really believed that statement—or—do you think that he merely expressed such thoughts so that he didn't seem like a failure? Explain your answer.

At the height of his genius, Vincent was working so hard that he was able to create one brilliant masterpiece after another. Even though his paintings weren’t selling, Vincent kept producing. How could Vincent keep moving forward, creating more and more art, despite the upsetting fact that no one was buying his work?       

How should we value the work of Vincent’s paintings before anyone bought them? Should we measure the worth of his efforts by how much money his paintings earned? Why, or why not?

What makes something, like a painting, valuable? If no one wants to buy the painting, does that mean it’s worthless? Why, or why not?

Media Credits

Image of "The Starry Night," by Vincent van Gogh.


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