Head of a Man (1886; Antwerp, Belgium) by Vincent van Gogh

Head of a Man - Vincent van Gogh - 1886; Antwerp, Belgium

Artwork Information

TitleHead of a Man
ArtistVincent van Gogh
Date1886; Antwerp, Belgium
MediumChalk on Paper
Art MovementPost-Impressionism
Current LocationVan Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

About Head of a Man

The artwork “Head of a Man” is a sketch executed by the celebrated Post-Impressionist artist Vincent van Gogh in 1886 at Antwerp, Belgium. It is a work rendered in chalk on paper that exemplifies the genre of sketch and study. Currently, it is housed in the Van Gogh Museum, located in Amsterdam, Netherlands, where it contributes to the understanding of van Gogh’s artistic process and development during his formative years.

The artwork presents a profile view of a man’s head, sketched with brisk and vigorous lines that capture the essence of the subject without delving into meticulous detail. Van Gogh’s characteristic use of directional mark-making is evident in the way he has applied the chalk to the paper, creating texture and depth through contrast and shading. The energetic strokes suggest a rapid, almost urgent approach to the study, a hallmark of van Gogh’s drawings and preliminary works. The focus on light and shadow, combined with the sheer immediacy of the lines, allows the viewer to sense the artist’s exploration of form and his intent to convey the emotional depth of the human face. Despite the sketch’s economy of detail, the personality of the man emerges, hinting at van Gogh’s interest in capturing human character and expression, themes that would continue to resonate throughout his artistic career.

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