In 1942, Van Dyke enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, and ended up in the special services unit. There, he performed in shows and hosted a radio show. After being discharged from the service in 1945, Van Dyke tried his hand at advertising, but after realizing that the business wasn't a good match for him, he joined novelty lip-synching act the "Merry Mutes" and moved to California.
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]
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.
During this period Van Gogh mastered the use of light by subjugating shadows and painting the trees as if they are the source of light – almost in a sacred manner.[252] Early the following year he painted another smaller group of orchards, including View of Arles, Flowering Orchards.[254] Van Gogh was enthralled by the landscape and vegetation of the south of France, and often visited the farm gardens near Arles. In the vivid light of the Mediterranean climate his palette significantly brightened.[255]
Nevertheless, the twelve customers selected the colors and styles they desired, and were asked to return later in the afternoon to pick up their purchases. Paul Van Doren and Lee then rushed to the factory to manufacture the selected shoes. When the customers returned that afternoon to pick up their shoes, Paul Van Doren and Gordon C. Lee realized that they had forgotten to maintain a cash reserve to provide change to customers. The customers were therefore given the shoes and asked to return the following day with their payments. All twelve of the customers returned the following day to pay for their items.[6]

Van Gogh's nephew and namesake, Vincent Willem van Gogh (1890–1978),[289] inherited the estate after his mother's death in 1925. During the early 1950s he arranged for the publication of a complete edition of the letters presented in four volumes and several languages. He then began negotiations with the Dutch government to subsidise a foundation to purchase and house the entire collection.[290] Theo's son participated in planning the project in the hope that the works would be exhibited under the best possible conditions. The project began in 1963; architect Gerrit Rietveld was commissioned to design it, and after his death in 1964 Kisho Kurokawa took charge.[291] Work progressed throughout the 1960s, with 1972 as the target for its grand opening.[289]

In 2015 the company paid out $2.5 million dollars in free furniture to 3000 customers after a promotion that gave away the purchases of customers if it snowed three inches each in the cities of Toledo, Fort Wayne, and Chicago.[21][22] In 2016, Art Van replaced its regional Super Bowl advertisements in the Detroit and Grand Rapids areas with a thank you message for donors of water to Flint, Michigan, which the company had solicited through its charitable programs.[23]