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, 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."
After his recovery, and despite his antipathy towards academic teaching, he took the higher-level admission exams at the Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, and in January 1886 matriculated in painting and drawing. He became ill and run down by overwork, poor diet and excessive smoking. He started to attend drawing classes after plaster models at the Antwerp Academy on 18 January 1886. He quickly got into trouble with Charles Verlat, the director of the Academy and teacher of a painting class, because of his unconventional painting style. Van Gogh had also clashed with the instructor of the drawing class Franz Vinck. Van Gogh finally started to attend the drawing classes after antique plaster models given by Eugène Siberdt. Soon Siberdt and Van Gogh came into conflict when the latter did not comply with Siberdt's requirement that drawings express the contour and concentrate on the line. When Van Gogh was required to draw the Venus of Milo during a drawing class, he produced the limbless, naked torso of a Flemish peasant woman. Siberdt regarded this as defiance against his artistic guidance and made corrections to Van Gogh's drawing with his crayon so vigorously that he tore the paper. Van Gogh then flew into a violent rage and shouted at Siberdt: 'You clearly do not know what a young woman is like, God damn it! A woman must have hips, buttocks, a pelvis in which she can carry a baby!' According to some accounts this was the last time Van Gogh attended classes at the Academy and he left later for Paris. On 31 March 1886, which was about a month after the confrontation with Siberdt, the teachers of the Academy decided that 17 students, including Van Gogh, had to repeat a year. The story that Van Gogh was expelled from the Academy by Siberdt is therefore unfounded.
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.
In November 1959, Van Dyke made his Broadway debut in The Girls Against the Boys. He then played the lead role of Albert Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie, which ran from April 14, 1960, to October 7, 1961. In a May 2011 interview with Rachael Ray, Van Dyke said that when he auditioned for a smaller part in the show he had no experience as a dancer, and that after he sang his audition song he did an impromptu soft-shoe out of sheer nervousness. Gower Champion, the show's director and choreographer, was watching, and promptly went up on stage to inform Van Dyke he had the lead. An astonished Van Dyke protested that he could not dance, to which Champion replied: "We'll teach you". That musical won four Tony awards including Van Dyke's Best Featured Actor Tony, in 1961. In 1980, Van Dyke appeared as the title role in the first Broadway revival of The Music Man.