Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Fine Arts

Committee Chair

Kloner, Jay Martin, 1938-

Author's Keywords

Gogh; Vincent van; Art history; Art therapy; Formal elements of art; Psychotherapy; Bipolar; France


Gogh, Vincent van, 1853-1890--Psychology


This dissertation is an intensive analysis of the artworks and letters of Vincent van Gogh focusing on the final three years of his life from February 1888 to July 1890 at Arles, Saint-Rémy, and Auvers. The author is both an art historian and an art therapist, so this is an interdisciplinary dissertation. Chapter one, the introduction, provides the theoretical background for this paper, discussing the words and images of Vincent van Gogh, and setting forth the thesis statement: The thesis statement of this dissertation is that variations in the psychological state of Vincent van Gogh are discernable be psychoanalytical analysis of the words in his Letters in conjunction with observation of the way the formal elements of art are consciously manipulated by the artist in the service of artistic expression or unconsciously manipulated by the mental state of the artist. Chapter two sets the stage for the remainder of the paper discussing the time from March 1886 to February 1888, when Vincent lived with his brother Theo in Paris. The purpose of chapter two is to show that although Vincent’s personality was difficult and he had trouble getting along with people; this was prior to the onset of his major mental pathology. The art works from Paris provide a baseline for comparison to the artworks after his major pathology began. Chapters three through seven discuss Arles, Saint-Rémy, and Auvers. Chapter eight reveals the expected tendencies of this pilot study in which the author has created a Formal Elements Rating Scale. The charts and graphs are in the appendix. Chapter nine sets forth the summary and conclusions.