Vincent van Gogh
60 Minutes recently rebroadcast a segment on the life
of the Dutch impressionist painter. The poignant and tragic life
of the great artist underscores a number of important lessons.
One could argue that van Gogh’s vocational journey illustrates major
tenets of aptitude science and the importance of recognizing
and following one’s innate abilities, despite family drama.
Consider the ups and downs of van Gogh’s vocational choices. As a young child, he learned how to draw. He was obviously talented and enjoyed the activity. However, as an adult, art was not the field he chose. van Gogh believed his destiny was to become an evangelical preacher, but it was a disastrous choice for a number of reasons, and to make matters worse, he flunked his theology exam.
van Gogh later worked in a bookstore, but was bored and spent a lot of time doodling.
Although he found other work in Paris with an art dealer, van Gogh disliked the crass commercialism applied to paintings. After he decided to become an artist, he began rendering portraits of individuals, and, he had no problems passing the top level exams at the Academy of Fine Arts.
van Gogh was his harshest critic and never felt he’d amount to much as an artist.
Lessons: 1.van Gogh’s innate artistic ability appeared early in his youth but was not immediately valued. Instead, based on misguided fervor and belief, he decided to become a pastor as his father before him.
2. Aptitude experts would probably have described van Gogh as a subjective loner, but in order to achieve success as a pastor, an objective or outgoing personality would have been necessary. Portrait painting was more compatible with his personality traits and innate ability.
3. As a bookstore employee, van Gogh’s primary aptitudes were useless, so he resorted to doodling to ease the stress. An inability to use one’s innate talents creates restlessness, according to aptitude researchers.
4. van Gogh’s Starry Night, which he painted based on recollection of a prior visit to a sanatorium, indicates a tremendous aptitude for memory & design. And although, he flunked theology, he had no problems using his skills to pass the educational requirements for the Art Academy.
5. Not only van Gogh’s skill but his values determined his vocational choices.
The Van Gogh Gallery. July 31, 2012. Templeton Reid, LLC. http://www.vangoghgallery.com/.
Starry, Starry, Night by Don McLean
Lyrics and back story of the hit song based on van Gogh’s life.
60 minutes: The life and death of Vincent van Gogh
Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation