Entertainment behind the scenes
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.
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.
But 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.