I've always had a soft spot and fascination with Vincent Van Vogh. Still to this day, I cannot believe that I was in Amsterdam during the time The Van Gogh Museum was being renovated (closed to the public). I never got to see inside a whole museum devoted to one of my artistic heroes! Alas.
I think I like Vincent because he seemed an extremely sensitive person, like me. This sensitivity allowed him to capture beauty, yet at the same time see the grotesque in life. Vincent soaked in and felt emotions deeply. And yet though I can censor myself, and 'control' my emotions, Vincent let his passions fly. The acuteness of his passions went to extremes, both ultimate joy to the depths of utter despair.
Given all of what we know of his character, it's never been surprising that Vincent Van Gogh sliced off his own ear in a fit of passion. He certainly was capable of other forms of self-abuse, heavy drinking, and eventual suicide at the age of 37.
However, two German art historians have a new explanation for what happened to Van Gogh's ear. Hans Kaufmann and Rita Wildegans, in their book "Van Gogh's Ear: Paul Gauguin and the Pact of Silence," contend that Paul Gauguin (an able fencer) cut off Van Gogh's ear during a disagreement. For years, the two men had experienced a passionate love/ hate relationship. Van Gogh had invited Gauguin to stay with him in Arles. The two authors postulate that since Van Gogh revered Gauguin, he concocted his self-mutilation story to spare Gauguin from prosecution.
I'm not sure I buy the theory, but since it's a crime mystery of sorts, I'd like to read the book.
Van Gogh's last recorded words to Gauguin were: "You are quiet; I will be, too."