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Vincent van Gogh: Facebook Addict?

October 9, 2009

Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh wrote more than 800 letters during his short life, posting a note almost daily to his brother Theo. This was quite common in the 19th century, due to the lack of telephones, email and social networking sites.

Vincent van Gogh, Self-portrait, 1887

In his letters, he would chat about the art he was working on, and try to sketch his paintings so his family and friends had a sense of his plans. The letters have become an art history treasure and have recently been compiled in a new six-volume publication.

If Van Gogh had lived in the 21st century, would he have logged on to a social networking site such as Facebook, MySpace or Twitter, and posted regular updates about the progress of his work? Judging from the volume of his correspondence, that would be likely. He wouldn’t have had to repeat his thoughts to every letter recipient, and if he had a camera at hand he could have uploaded photos of his work for others to comment on.


Letter from Vincent van GoghBut he would have had to learn to be more concise in explaining his thoughts, especially on Twitter where posts are limited to 140 characters. Some historians say he became increasingly reclusive in his life, so maybe superfluous friend requests would have aggravated him too much.


Vincent van Gogh, The Sower














Like many other artists, Van Gogh was penniless and largely ignored until after his death, when he was recognized as a revolutionary whose influence stretched into the 20th century. If more people could have seen and shared his work in progress, he might have become a legend in his lifetime.


I am sure that he would have been using facebook often to keep in touch with his friends and colleagues. Probably he would have issues when he wanted to send a painting since it is not easy to do so in facebook. Nice article.

Posted by A. Writer | Report as abusive

Technology has changed the way to communicate. I’m not sure if Gogh would use things like facebook to tell his thoughts. Traditional communication is more serious for this like this. If you need attention from specific person, letter is always a good idea.

Posted by Nan Gabriel | Report as abusive

A recent creative project has put his quotes on facebook AND twitter. Check out and Daily quotes from the master, matching the date!


i don’t think that his work will be this legendary if he’d live today.

Posted by The Kid from Borneo | Report as abusive

Maybe Van Gogh would have maintained a blog like

Posted by Edith | Report as abusive

His paintings were considered of bad taste and a disgrace. They would have been considered offensive and blocked out.

Posted by Sandoval | Report as abusive

I agree with the article’s theory because it seems he was just wanting to express his thoughts in some way, although he had deeper psychological issues. He would never have been a legend during his lifetime, just like with many legendary figures he was ignored until after his death. It doesn’t matter what era he was living in, it’s about him having revolutionised art of his time. It’s about the legacy he left behind.

Posted by Amanda | Report as abusive

rubbish…He probaly would have cut of his internet connection instead of his ear after reading this story

Posted by dutchman | Report as abusive

I’m afraid that too many young people don’t know the joy of writing or receiving a handwritten letter full of honest thoughts and emotions. All this electronic email, texting, and blogging has taken away personal communication. I feel sorry for young people.


If he lived today, he probably wouldn’t have done anything like he did then because he would have been brought up in a very different world! Who knows? He may have become a graphics designer for some game company, or maybe just another poor fellow in the soup line! Maybe he would have been a hippie who spent his youth following Dead concerts, selling his “art” crap in the parking lots! One thing for sure, he would have had a lot more drugs to experiment with! With all the drugs we have today, he probably would have died with both ears still attached! On that thought considering the ear thing, he might have made a great EMO!

Posted by WFD | Report as abusive

I think that most people are not addicted to facebook. Some people work off facebook. I myself stay logged on to facebook for days at a time because i update my information on for my study group.

Posted by E.B | Report as abusive

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