In Nuenen, Van Gogh focused on painting and drawing. Working outside and very quickly, he completed sketches and paintings of weavers and their cottages.[82] From August 1884, Margot Begemann, a neighbour's daughter ten years his senior, joined him on his forays; she fell in love and he reciprocated, though less enthusiastically. They wanted to marry, but neither side of their families were in favour. Margot was distraught and took an overdose of strychnine, but survived after Van Gogh rushed her to a nearby hospital.[75] On 26 March 1885, his father died of a heart attack.[83]

In his younger years, Van Dyke considered becoming a minister. He abandoned this ambition, however, after joining high high school's drama club, and developing his singing and dancing skills in school musicals. His classmates included actor Donald O'Connor and entertainer Bobby Short. Around this time, Van Dyke landed his first professional job, working part-time at a local radio station.
We bought a bedroom set and was very excited to get it delivered. However, when it got delivered, we realized that the salesperson failed to tell us that we needed a bunky board rather than a box spring, and the bed was 5 feet tall with the platform! (Keeping in mind I bought all the pieces of furniture from the same company). The bed was as tall as me! I called the company while the delivery guys were still here, but the salesperson said she would call me back and never did. I finally got ahold of the manager the next day, who was going to charge me another $100 for the exchange and delivery. I later found out that the bunky board was simply a piece of plywood that you can easily buy for much cheaper, and that this situation happened to people all the time; especially to elderly people.
What particularly struck me when I saw the old Dutch paintings again is that they were usually painted quickly. That these great masters like Hals, Rembrandt, Ruisdael – so many others – as far as possible just put it straight down – and didn't come back to it so very much. And – this, too, please – that if it worked, they left it alone. Above all I admired hands by Rembrandt and Hals – hands that lived, but were not finished in the sense that people want to enforce nowadays ... In the winter I'm going to explore various things regarding manner that I noticed in the old paintings. I saw a great deal that I needed. But this above all things – what they call – dashing off – you see that's what the old Dutch painters did famously. That – dashing off – with a few brushstrokes, they won't hear of it now  – but how true the results are.
Mauve took Van Gogh on as a student and introduced him to watercolour, which he worked on for the next month before returning home for Christmas.[63] He quarrelled with his father, refusing to attend church, and left for The Hague.[note 5][66] Within a month Van Gogh and Mauve fell out, possibly over the viability of drawing from plaster casts.[67] Van Gogh could afford to hire only people from the street as models, a practice of which Mauve seems to have disapproved.[68] In June Van Gogh suffered a bout of gonorrhoea and spent three weeks in hospital.[69] Soon after, he first painted in oils,[70] bought with money borrowed from Theo. He liked the medium, and spread the paint liberally, scraping from the canvas and working back with the brush. He wrote that he was surprised at how good the results were.[71]
For years, Van Dyke struggled financially and professionally. He and his first wife, Margie, married on a radio show called Bride and Groom in 1948, in part because the program paid for the ceremony and gave them a free honeymoon. In the late 1940s and early '50s, Van Dyke worked in radio and television in Atlanta and New Orleans. He landed a seven-year contract with CBS in the early 1950s, but was let go after three years.
In despair of ever being able to overcome his loneliness or be cured, van Gogh shot himself. He did not die immediately. When found wounded in his bed, he allegedly said, “I shot myself.…I only hope I haven’t botched it.” That evening, when interrogated by the police, van Gogh refused to answer questions, saying, “What I have done is nobody else’s business. I am free to do what I like with my own body.”
The self-portraits reflect an unusually high degree of self-scrutiny.[233] Often they were intended to mark important periods in his life, for example the mid-1887 Paris series were painted at the point where he became aware of Claude Monet, Paul Cezanne and Signac.[234] In Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat, heavy strains of paint spread outwards across the canvas. It is one of his most renowned self-portraits of that period, "with its highly organized rhythmic brushstrokes, and the novel halo derived from the Neo-impressionist repertoire was what Van Gogh himself called a 'purposeful' canvas".[235]
To support his religious conviction and his desire to become a pastor, in 1877 the family sent him to live with his uncle Johannes Stricker, a respected theologian, in Amsterdam.[42] Van Gogh prepared for the University of Amsterdam theology entrance examination;[43] he failed the exam, and left his uncle's house in July 1878. He undertook, but also failed, a three-month course at a Protestant missionary school in Laken, near Brussels.[44]
Van Gogh was unsuccessful during his lifetime, and was considered a madman and a failure. He became famous after his suicide, and exists in the public imagination as the quintessential misunderstood genius, the artist "where discourses on madness and creativity converge".[6] His reputation began to grow in the early 20th century as elements of his painting style came to be incorporated by the Fauves and German Expressionists. He attained widespread critical, commercial and popular success over the ensuing decades, and is remembered as an important but tragic painter, whose troubled personality typifies the romantic ideal of the tortured artist. Today, Van Gogh's works are among the world's most expensive paintings to have ever sold at auction, and his legacy is honoured by a museum in his name, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which holds the world's largest collection of his paintings and drawings.
Dick Van Dyke was born Richard Wayne Van Dyke in West Plains, Missouri, to Hazel Victoria (McCord), a stenographer, and Loren Wayne Van Dyke, a salesman. His younger brother is entertainer Jerry Van Dyke. His ancestry includes English, Scottish, German, Swiss-German, and Dutch. Although he'd had small roles beforehand, Van Dyke was launched to stardom in the 1960 musical "Bye-Bye Birdie", for which he won a Tony Award, and, then, later in the movie based on that play, Bye Bye Birdie (1963). He has starred in a number of films throughout the years including Mary Poppins (1964), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) and Fitzwilly (1967), as well as a number of successful television series which won him no less than four Emmys and three made-for-CBS movies. After separating from his wife, Margie Willett, in the 1970s, Dick later became involved with Michelle Triola. Margie and Dick had four children born during the first ten years of their marriage: Barry Van Dyke; Carrie Beth van Dyke; Christian Van Dyke and Stacy Van Dyke, all of whom are now in their forties and married themselves. He has seven grandchildren, including Shane Van Dyke, Carey Van Dyke, Wes Van Dyke and Taryn Van Dyke (Barry's children) and family members often appear with him on Diagnosis Murder (1993).
^ Theo and his wife, Gachet and his son, and Signac, who all saw Van Gogh after the bandages were removed, maintained that only the earlobe had been removed.[142] According to Doiteau and Leroy, the diagonal cut removed the lobe and probably a little more.[143] The policeman and Rey both claimed Van Gogh severed the entire outer ear;[142] Rey repeated his account in 1930, writing a note for novelist Irving Stone and including a sketch of the line of the incision.[144]
Van Gogh had no recollection of the event, suggesting that he may have suffered an acute mental breakdown.[147] The hospital diagnosis was "acute mania with generalised delirium",[148] and within a few days the local police ordered that he be placed in hospital care.[149][150] Gauguin immediately notified Theo, who on 24 December had proposed marriage to his old friend Andries Bonger's sister Johanna.[151] That evening Theo rushed to the station to board a night train to Arles. He arrived on Christmas Day and comforted Vincent, who seemed to be semi-lucid. That evening he left Arles for the return trip to Paris.[152]
For years, Van Dyke struggled financially and professionally. He and his first wife, Margie, married on a radio show called Bride and Groom in 1948, in part because the program paid for the ceremony and gave them a free honeymoon. In the late 1940s and early '50s, Van Dyke worked in radio and television in Atlanta and New Orleans. He landed a seven-year contract with CBS in the early 1950s, but was let go after three years.
Born in Missouri in 1925, Dick Van Dyke is known for his starring role in the musical Bye Bye Birdie (1963), and for his successful television comedy series The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961–66). Additionally, he starred in the drama series Diagnosis Murder (1993–2001), has won several Emmy Awards and has performed in a number of films, including Mary Poppins; Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang, Dick Tracy and Night at the Museum.
As an a cappella enthusiast, he has sung in a group called "Dick Van Dyke and The Vantastix" since September 2000. The quartet has performed several times in Los Angeles as well as on Larry King Live, The First Annual TV Land Awards, and sang the national anthem at three Los Angeles Lakers games including a nationally televised NBA Finals performance on NBC. Van Dyke was made an honorary member of the Barbershop Harmony Society in 1999.[43]
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 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]
Van Gogh returned home a fortnight later and resumed painting, producing a mirror-image Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Pipe, several still lifes, and La Berceuse (Woman Rocking a Cradle; Augustine-Alix Pellicot Roulin, 1851–1930). Several weeks later, he again showed symptoms of mental disturbance severe enough to cause him to be sent back to the hospital. At the end of April 1889, fearful of losing his renewed capacity for work, which he regarded as a guarantee of his sanity, he asked to be temporarily shut up in the asylum at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in order to be under medical supervision.
In the best of all worlds the producers would take some responsibility for the kinds of things they're putting out. Unfortunately, they don't. And then I-- they keep saying we can't have our First Amendment rights abridged and we can't have censorship. Well we had it back in the Hays days [Production Code Administration, headed by 'Will H. Hays', the official Hollywood censor office], in the Johnson office days. And I think they should--maybe the American people might bring it back if things get bad enough.

Theo died in January 1891, removing Vincent's most vocal and well-connected champion.[267] Theo's widow Johanna van Gogh-Bonger was a Dutchwoman in her twenties who had not known either her husband or her brother-in law very long and who suddenly had to take care of several hundreds of paintings, letters and drawings, as well as her infant son, Vincent Willem van Gogh.[262][note 14] Gauguin was not inclined to offer assistance in promoting Van Gogh's reputation, and Johanna's brother Andries Bonger also seemed lukewarm about his work.[262] Aurier, one of Van Gogh's earliest supporters among the critics, died of typhoid fever in 1892 at the age of twenty-seven.[269]
We bought a bedroom set and was very excited to get it delivered. However, when it got delivered, we realized that the salesperson failed to tell us that we needed a bunky board rather than a box spring, and the bed was 5 feet tall with the platform! (Keeping in mind I bought all the pieces of furniture from the same company). The bed was as tall as me! I called the company while the delivery guys were still here, but the salesperson said she would call me back and never did. I finally got ahold of the manager the next day, who was going to charge me another $100 for the exchange and delivery. I later found out that the bunky board was simply a piece of plywood that you can easily buy for much cheaper, and that this situation happened to people all the time; especially to elderly people.
I was an alcoholic for about twenty-five years. In the Fifties and Sixties, everybody had their martini, everybody smoked incessantly. The funny thing is that all through my twenties and early thirties I didn't drink at all. Then we moved to a neighborhood full of young families with the same age kids and everyone drank heavily, there were big parties every night. I would go to work with terrible hangovers which if you're dancing is really hard. I was in deep trouble, you get suicidal and think you just can't go on. I had suicidal feelings, it was just terrible. But then suddenly, like a blessing, the drink started not to taste good. I would feel a little dizzy and a little nauseous and I wasn't getting the click. Today I wouldn't want a drink for anything. But I do occasionally think of taking a nice drag. I've been on this gum for ten years and it's just as addictive but at least it's not hurting my lungs. (2013)

Van Gogh stayed there for 12 months, haunted by recurrent attacks, alternating between moods of calm and despair, and working intermittently: The Starry Night, Garden of the Asylum, Cypresses, Olive Trees, Les Alpilles, portraits of doctors, and interpretations of paintings by Rembrandt, Delacroix, and Millet date from this period. The keynote of this phase (1889–90) is fear of losing touch with reality, as well as a certain sadness. Confined for long periods to his cell or the asylum garden, having no choice of subjects, and realizing that his inspiration depended on direct observation, van Gogh fought against having to work from memory. At Saint-Rémy he muted the vivid, sun-drenched colours of the previous summer and tried to make his painting more calm. As he repressed his excitement, however, he involved himself more imaginatively in the drama of the elements, developing a style based on dynamic forms and a vigorous use of line (he often equated line with colour). The best of his Saint-Rémy pictures are thus bolder and more visionary than those of Arles.


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]
^ Theo and his wife, Gachet and his son, and Signac, who all saw Van Gogh after the bandages were removed, maintained that only the earlobe had been removed.[142] According to Doiteau and Leroy, the diagonal cut removed the lobe and probably a little more.[143] The policeman and Rey both claimed Van Gogh severed the entire outer ear;[142] Rey repeated his account in 1930, writing a note for novelist Irving Stone and including a sketch of the line of the incision.[144]
Van Gogh’s fame dates from the early years of the 20th century, and since then his reputation has never ceased to grow. A large part of this reputation is based on the image of van Gogh as a struggling genius, working unappreciated in isolation. The dramatic elements of his life—poverty, self-mutilation, mental breakdown, and suicide—feed the drama of this mythology. The notion that his unorthodox talent was unrecognized and rejected by society heightens the legend, as it is just that sort of isolation and struggle that has come to define the modern concept of the artist. This mythical van Gogh has become almost inseparable from his art, inspiring artists to dramatize his saga in poems, novels, films, operas, dance ensembles, orchestral compositions, and a popular song. Wide and diverse audiences have come to appreciate his art, and the record-breaking attendance at exhibitions of his works—as well as the popularity of commercial items featuring imagery from his oeuvre—reveal that, within the span of a century, van Gogh has become perhaps the most recognized painter of all time. The unprecedented prices his works have attained through auction and the attention paid to forgery scandals have only increased van Gogh’s stature in the public imagination.
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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]
The most comprehensive primary source on Van Gogh is the correspondence between him and his younger brother, Theo. Their lifelong friendship, and most of what is known of Vincent's thoughts and theories of art, are recorded in the hundreds of letters they exchanged from 1872 until 1890.[7] Theo van Gogh was an art dealer and provided his brother with financial and emotional support, and access to influential people on the contemporary art scene.[8]
We also love our new sectional! Art Van had a ton of options to choose from and it took us a second visit to nail down which one we wanted most. Pretty much everything can be customized from fabric to power options as well, which worked in our favor. They offer great long warranties, too, which was important to us since we have a dog. We were able to find a sectional with a chaise, center console, and power reclining seats which was so hard to find any where else. We got exactly what we wanted.
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His understanding of the possibilities of painting was evolving rapidly; from studying Hals he learned to portray the freshness of a visual impression, while the works of Paolo Veronese and Eugène Delacroix taught him that colour can express something by itself. This led to his enthusiasm for Peter Paul Rubens and inspired his sudden departure for Antwerp, Belgium, where the greatest number of Rubens’s works could be seen. The revelation of Rubens’s mode of direct notation and of his ability to express a mood by a combination of colours proved decisive in the development of van Gogh’s style. Simultaneously, van Gogh discovered Japanese prints and Impressionist painting. All these sources influenced him more than the academic principles taught at the Antwerp Academy, where he was enrolled. His refusal to follow the academy’s dictates led to disputes, and after three months he left precipitately in 1886 to join Theo in Paris. There, still concerned with improving his drawing, van Gogh met Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Gauguin, and others who were to play historic roles in modern art. They opened his eyes to the latest developments in French painting. At the same time, Theo introduced him to Camille Pissarro, Georges Seurat, and other artists of the Impressionist group.
Albert Aurier praised his work in the Mercure de France in January 1890, and described him as "a genius".[173] In February Van Gogh painted five versions of L'Arlésienne (Madame Ginoux), based on a charcoal sketch Gauguin had produced when she sat for both artists in November 1888.[174][note 10] Also in February, Van Gogh was invited by Les XX, a society of avant-garde painters in Brussels, to participate in their annual exhibition. At the opening dinner a Les XX member, Henry de Groux, insulted Van Gogh's work. Toulouse-Lautrec demanded satisfaction, and Signac declared he would continue to fight for Van Gogh's honour if Lautrec surrendered. De Groux apologised for the slight and left the group. Later, while Van Gogh's exhibit was on display with the Artistes Indépendants in Paris, Claude Monet said that his work was the best in the show.[175] After the birth of his nephew, Van Gogh wrote, "I started right away to make a picture for him, to hang in their bedroom, branches of white almond blossom against a blue sky."[176] 

He wrote that they represented his "sadness and extreme loneliness", and that the "canvases will tell you what I cannot say in words, that is, how healthy and invigorating I find the countryside".[183] Wheatfield with Crows, although not his last oil work, is from July 1890 and Hulsker discusses it as being associated with "melancholy and extreme loneliness".[184] Hulsker identifies seven oil paintings from Auvers that follow the completion of Wheatfield with Crows.[185]
There was interest from a dealer in Paris early in 1885.[86] Theo asked Vincent if he had paintings ready to exhibit.[87] In May, Van Gogh responded with his first major work, The Potato Eaters, and a series of "peasant character studies" which were the culmination of several years of work.[88] When he complained that Theo was not making enough effort to sell his paintings in Paris, his brother responded that they were too dark, and not in keeping with the bright style of Impressionism.[85] In August his work was publicly exhibited for the first time, in the shop windows of the dealer Leurs in The Hague. One of his young peasant sitters became pregnant in September 1885; Van Gogh was accused of forcing himself upon her, and the village priest forbade parishioners to model for him.[89]
In 1959, Van Dyke landed a small part in the Broadway comedy review Girls Against the Boys. The show only lasted two weeks, and he soon moved on to another production. Along with Chita Rivera, Paul Lynde and Charles Nelson Reilly, Van Dyke was cast in the musical Bye Bye Birdie, which made its Broadway debut in 1960. The musical proved to a big hit, and it brought Van Dyke his one and only Tony Award win in 1961, for his supporting role. Not long after, his career took off.
I asked Fred Astaire once when he was about my age if he still danced and he said 'Yes, but it hurts now.' That's exactly it. I can still dance too but it hurts now! I've always kept moving. I was at the gym at six this morning. Of course marrying a beautiful young woman has been a big help. There are so many years between us and we don't feel it. I'm emotionally immature and she's very wise for her age so we kind of meet in the middle.
Many of the comedy films Van Dyke starred in throughout the 1960s were relatively unsuccessful at the box office, including What a Way to Go! with Shirley MacLaine, Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N., Fitzwilly, The Art of Love with James Garner and Elke Sommer, Some Kind of a Nut, Never a Dull Moment with Edward G. Robinson, and Divorce American Style with Debbie Reynolds and Jean Simmons. But he also starred as Caractacus Pott (with his native accent, at his own insistence, despite the English setting) in the successful musical version of Ian Fleming's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), which co-starred Sally Ann Howes and featured the same songwriters (The Sherman Brothers) and choreographers (Marc Breaux and Dee Dee Wood) as Mary Poppins.
I was an alcoholic for about twenty-five years. In the Fifties and Sixties, everybody had their martini, everybody smoked incessantly. The funny thing is that all through my twenties and early thirties I didn't drink at all. Then we moved to a neighborhood full of young families with the same age kids and everyone drank heavily, there were big parties every night. I would go to work with terrible hangovers which if you're dancing is really hard. I was in deep trouble, you get suicidal and think you just can't go on. I had suicidal feelings, it was just terrible. But then suddenly, like a blessing, the drink started not to taste good. I would feel a little dizzy and a little nauseous and I wasn't getting the click. Today I wouldn't want a drink for anything. But I do occasionally think of taking a nice drag. I've been on this gum for ten years and it's just as addictive but at least it's not hurting my lungs. (2013)
In 1892 Émile Bernard organised a small solo show of Van Gogh's paintings in Paris, and Julien Tanguy exhibited his Van Gogh paintings with several consigned from Johanna van Gogh-Bonger. In April 1894 the Durand-Rue Gallery in Paris agreed to take 10 paintings on consignment from Van Gogh's estate.[269] In 1896, the Fauvist painter Henri Matisse, then an unknown art student, visited John Peter Russell on Belle Île off Brittany.[270][271] Russell had been a close friend of Van Gogh; he introduced Matisse to the Dutchman's work, and gave him a Van Gogh drawing. Influenced by Van Gogh, Matisse abandoned his earth-coloured palette for bright colours.[271][272]
The self-portraits reflect an unusually high degree of self-scrutiny.[233] Often they were intended to mark important periods in his life, for example the mid-1887 Paris series were painted at the point where he became aware of Claude Monet, Paul Cezanne and Signac.[234] In Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat, heavy strains of paint spread outwards across the canvas. It is one of his most renowned self-portraits of that period, "with its highly organized rhythmic brushstrokes, and the novel halo derived from the Neo-impressionist repertoire was what Van Gogh himself called a 'purposeful' canvas".[235]
For years, Van Dyke struggled financially and professionally. He and his first wife, Margie, married on a radio show called Bride and Groom in 1948, in part because the program paid for the ceremony and gave them a free honeymoon. In the late 1940s and early '50s, Van Dyke worked in radio and television in Atlanta and New Orleans. He landed a seven-year contract with CBS in the early 1950s, but was let go after three years. 

[about Mary Poppins (1964)] I thought Walt Disney hired me because I was such a great singer and dancer. As it turns out, he had heard me in an interview talking about what was happening to family entertainment. I was decrying the fact that it seemed like no holds were barred anymore in entertainment . . . That's why he called me in, because I said something he agreed with. And I got the part.
Ill from drink and suffering from smoker's cough, in February 1888 Van Gogh sought refuge in Arles.[14] He seems to have moved with thoughts of founding an art colony. The Danish artist Christian Mourier-Petersen became his companion for two months, and at first Arles appeared exotic. In a letter, he described it as a foreign country: "The Zouaves, the brothels, the adorable little Arlésienne going to her First Communion, the priest in his surplice, who looks like a dangerous rhinoceros, the people drinking absinthe, all seem to me creatures from another world."[114]
Between 1885 and his death in 1890, Van Gogh appears to have been building an oeuvre,[221] a collection that reflected his personal vision, and could be commercially successful. He was influenced by Blanc's definition of style, that a true painting required optimal use of colour, perspective and brushstrokes. Van Gogh applied the word "purposeful" to paintings he thought he had mastered, as opposed to those he thought of as studies.[222] He painted many series of studies;[218] most of which were still lifes, many executed as colour experiments or as gifts to friends.[223] The work in Arles contributed considerably to his oeuvre: those he thought the most important from that time were The Sower, Night Cafe, Memory of the Garden in Etten and Starry Night. With their broad brushstrokes, inventive perspectives, colours, contours and designs, these paintings represent the style he sought.[219]
In these series, Van Gogh was not preoccupied by his usual interest in filling his paintings with subjectivity and emotion; rather the two series are intended to display his technical skill and working methods to Gauguin,[134] who was about to visit. The 1888 paintings were created during a rare period of optimism for the artist. Vincent wrote to Theo in August 1888, "I'm painting with the gusto of a Marseillais eating bouillabaisse, which won't surprise you when it's a question of painting large sunflowers ... If I carry out this plan there'll be a dozen or so panels. The whole thing will therefore be a symphony in blue and yellow. I work on it all these mornings, from sunrise. Because the flowers wilt quickly and it's a matter of doing the whole thing in one go."[243]
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