Born in Missouri, entertainer Dick Van Dyke was raised in Danville, Illinois, where repeated viewings of Laurel & Hardy comedies at his local movie palace inspired him to go into show business. Active in high school and community plays in his teens, Van Dyke briefly put his theatrical aspirations aside upon reaching college age. He toyed with the idea of becoming a Presbyterian minister; then, after serving in the Air Force during World War II, opened up a Danville advertising agency. When this venture failed, it was back to show biz, first as a radio announcer for local station WDAN, and later as half of a record-pantomime act called The Merry Mutes (the other half was a fellow named Philip Erickson). While hosting a TV morning show in New Orleans, Van Dyke was signed to a contract by the CBS network. He spent most of his time subbing for other CBS personalities and emceeing such forgotten endeavors as Cartoon Theatre. After making his acting debut as a hayseed baseball player on The Phil Silvers Show, Van Dyke left CBS to free-lance. He hosted a few TV game shows before his career breakthrough as co-star of the 1959 Broadway review The Girls Against the Boys. The following year, he starred in the musical comedy Bye Bye Birdie, winning a Tony Award for his portrayal of mother-dominated songwriter Albert Peterson (it would be his last Broadway show until the short-lived 1980 revival of The Music Man). In 1961, he was cast as comedy writer Rob Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show, which after a shaky start lasted five seasons and earned its star three Emmies.He made his movie bow in the 1963 filmization of Bye Bye Birdie, then entered into a flexible arrangement with Walt Disney Studios. His best known films from that era include Mary Poppins (1964), Lt. Robin Crusoe, USN and The Comic, in which he played an amalgam of several self-destructive silent movie comedians. His TV specials remained popular in the ratings, and it was this fact that led to the debut of The New Dick Van Dyke Show in 1971. Despite the creative input of the earlier Dick Van Dyke Show's maven Carl Reiner, the later series never caught on, and petered out after three seasons. A chronic "people pleaser," Van Dyke was loath to display anger or frustration around his co-workers or fans, so he began taking solace in liquor; by 1972, he had become a full-fledged alcoholic. Rather than lie to his admirers or himself any longer, he underwent treatment and publicly admitted his alcoholism -- one of the first major TV stars ever to do so. Van Dyke's public confession did little to hurt his "nice guy" public image, and, now fully and permanently sober, he continued to be sought out for guest-star assignments and talk shows. In 1974, he starred in the TV movie The Morning After, playing an ad executive who destroys his reputation, his marriage and his life thanks to booze. After that Van Dyke, further proved his versatility when he began accepting villainous roles, ranging from a cold-blooded wife murderer in a 1975 Columbo episode to the corrupt district attorney in the 1990 film Dick Tracy. He also made several stabs at returning to weekly television, none of which panned out--until 1993, when he starred as Dr. Mark Sloan in the popular mystery series Diagnosis Murder. He made a few more movie appearances after Diagnosis Murder came to an end, most notably as a retired security guard in the hit family film Night at the Museum. As gifted at writing and illustrating as he is at singing, dancing and clowning, Van Dyke has penned two books, Faith, Hope and Hilarity and Those Funny Kids. From 1992 to 1994, he served as chairman of the Nickelodeon cable service, which was then sweeping the ratings by running Dick Van Dyke Show reruns in prime time. Van Dyke is the brother of award-winning TV personality Jerry Van Dyke, and the father of actor Barry Van Dyke.
By this time van Gogh was ready for such lessons, and the changes that his painting underwent in Paris between the spring of 1886 and February 1888 led to the creation of his personal idiom and style of brushwork. His palette at last became colourful, his vision less traditional, and his tonalities lighter, as may be seen in his first paintings of Montmartre. By the summer of 1887 he was painting in pure colours and using broken brushwork that is at times pointillistic. Finally, by the beginning of 1888, van Gogh’s Post-Impressionist style had crystallized, resulting in such masterpieces as Portrait of Père Tanguy and Self-Portrait in Front of the Easel, as well as in some landscapes of the Parisian suburbs.
Between February and April 1890 Van Gogh suffered a severe relapse. Depressed and unable to bring himself to write, he was still able to paint and draw a little during this time,[168] and he later wrote to Theo that he had made a few small canvases "from memory ... reminisces of the North".[169] Among these was Two Peasant Women Digging in a Snow-Covered Field at Sunset. Hulsker believes that this small group of paintings formed the nucleus of many drawings and study sheets depicting landscapes and figures that Van Gogh worked on during this time. He comments that this short period was the only time that Van Gogh's illness had a significant effect on his work.[170] Van Gogh asked his mother and his brother to send him drawings and rough work he had done in the early 1880s so he could work on new paintings from his old sketches.[171] Belonging to this period is Sorrowing Old Man ("At Eternity's Gate"), a colour study Hulsker describes as "another unmistakable remembrance of times long past".[90][172] His late paintings show an artist at the height of his abilities, according to the art critic Robert Hughes, "longing for concision and grace".[114]
Van Gogh learned about Fernand Cormon's atelier from Theo.[107] He worked at the studio in April and May 1886,[108] where he frequented the circle of the Australian artist John Peter Russell, who painted his portrait in 1886.[109] Van Gogh also met fellow students Émile Bernard, Louis Anquetin and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec – who painted a portrait of him in pastel. They met at Julien "Père" Tanguy's paint shop,[108] (which was, at that time, the only place where Paul Cézanne's paintings were displayed). In 1886, two large exhibitions were staged there, showing Pointillism and Neo-impressionism for the first time, and bringing attention to Georges Seurat and Paul Signac. Theo kept a stock of Impressionist paintings in his gallery on boulevard Montmartre, but Van Gogh was slow to acknowledge the new developments in art.[110]
Van Gogh strove to be a painter of rural life and nature,[212] and during his first summer in Arles he used his new palette to paint landscapes and traditional rural life.[213] His belief that a power existed behind the natural led him to try to capture a sense of that power, or the essence of nature in his art, sometimes through the use of symbols.[214] His renditions of the sower, at first copied from Jean-François Millet, reflect Van Gogh's religious beliefs: the sower as Christ sowing life beneath the hot sun.[215] These were themes and motifs he returned to often to rework and develop.[216] His paintings of flowers are filled with symbolism, but rather than use traditional Christian iconography he made up his own, where life is lived under the sun and work is an allegory of life.[217] In Arles, having gained confidence after painting spring blossoms and learning to capture bright sunlight, he was ready to paint The Sower.[208]
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By this time van Gogh was ready for such lessons, and the changes that his painting underwent in Paris between the spring of 1886 and February 1888 led to the creation of his personal idiom and style of brushwork. His palette at last became colourful, his vision less traditional, and his tonalities lighter, as may be seen in his first paintings of Montmartre. By the summer of 1887 he was painting in pure colours and using broken brushwork that is at times pointillistic. Finally, by the beginning of 1888, van Gogh’s Post-Impressionist style had crystallized, resulting in such masterpieces as Portrait of Père Tanguy and Self-Portrait in Front of the Easel, as well as in some landscapes of the Parisian suburbs.
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