We continue our journey to discover the augmented reality masterpieces in Artinside Museum. After exploring works like Vermeer’s “The Milkmaid“, Toulouse-Lautrec’s “At the Moulin Rouge“, Seurat’s study of “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte“, Georges de La Tour’s “The Fortune Teller“, and Frans Hals’s “Portrait of a Woman”, today we proceed with our visit to the Pavilion dedicated to Portraits and focus on the self-portrait of Vincent van Gogh. If you’re unsure how to use Artinside Museum and this is the first time you’re reading one of our articles, we invite you to discover how Artinside Museum works at this link.
We enter the second Pavilion dedicated to Portraiture, and once in augmented reality, we select the fifth panel from the main menu to access the room hosting a selection of Self-Portraits.
Five artworks come to life in the real world, floating in the space around us. We begin our visual journey from the invisible wall to our right, following a clockwise direction that brings us face to face with an image that immediately captures our attention: a man portrayed in three-quarters, with a thick beard of fiery copper and hair recalling the shades of bronze. His magnetic and vivid eyes silently invite us into his reality. And thus, we find ourselves, almost breathlessly, before Vincent Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait, the Dutch artist who traced the story of his life with colors and brushstrokes on the canvas.
🖼️ Pavilion: Second Pavilion. The Portraits
🏛️ Room: Fifth Room. Self-Portraits from the 19th to the 20th Century
📍Position: First painting (clockwise)
🎨 Artwork: Self-Portrait by Vincent Van Gogh
Come closer and examine this masterpiece through the lens of augmented reality, with your iPhone or iPad: the masterpiece materializes before you, as if suspended in space. Van Gogh’s face is presented in three-quarters, and his gaze is directed towards us, to the right. This angle offers a lively and intimate perspective, diverging from the formality of a head-on encounter.
Observe the right side of the face bathed in warm light, while the other side retreats into a delicate play of shadows, giving the face a fullness of volume and depth.
The clothing is outlined with a texture of brushstrokes (colours dots) that evoke the fabric’s consistency without resorting to hyperrealistic representation.
The vibrancy of the orange and red in his beard, along with the storm of blue and green and orange undulating behind him, capture the essence of this work: a visual dialogue between Van Gogh and the viewer, an authentic testament of the artist speaking directly to the world.
The surface of the painting thus dances with particles of color—intense greens, blues, reds, and oranges.
Here we find the full influence of Georges Seurat, and his technique known as Pointillism, which we delved into in our previous study of “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte”. Seurat, with his scientific approach to color, left an indelible mark on Van Gogh’s aesthetic. Yet, Seurat’s analytical method is transformed under Van Gogh’s hand into an expression of visceral passion, where precision merges with expressiveness, and color becomes a vehicle for inner emotions and sensations.
This use of color aims not only to represent the external reality but becomes a powerful tool to reveal the depths of the artist’s soul, showing how hues and their arrangement can narrate stories of torment and ecstasy, in a dance that is as much visual as it is emotional.
In this dance of colors, what most captures the attention is the gaze of Van Gogh: eyes of intense green that seem to contain worlds. As you draw closer, you can almost feel their invitation to dive deeper into the painting, to explore every nuance and line that defines them.
Van Gogh had a particular affinity for eyes, as he confessed in a letter to his brother Theo: “I prefer painting people’s eyes to cathedrals,” he declared, “However solemn and imposing the latter may be—a human soul, be it that of a poor streetwalker, is more interesting to me.” In this statement, there is a profound respect for humanity, a choice to find beauty and meaning in the eyes, the ‘windows of the soul.’ Van Gogh’s gaze in the portrait is an invitation to look beyond the surface, to reflect on the emotional complexity behind the artistic creation.
And those very eyes challenge us, almost with a silent question: “Do you see the man behind the image?” We should contemplate not just the artist but also the individual, with all his hopes, dreams, and struggles. This gaze invites us to a broader reflection on his life, an existence woven with creativity and torment, passion and pain, which manifests forcefully in every brushstroke.
The son of a Protestant pastor and the eldest of six children, Vincent Van Gogh was born on March 30, 1853, in the Northern Brabant region. Van Gogh dedicated himself to many professions before finding his calling as an artist around the age of 27. He was employed in a print shop, a language teacher, and a pastor and missionary among the miners in Belgium. In 1886, Vincent van Gogh left his native Netherlands and settled in Paris, where his beloved brother Theo worked as a art dealer, and he came into contact with new art currents such as Impressionism and Pointillism, which profoundly influenced his style.
During his stay in the vibrant French capital, Van Gogh created at least twenty-four self-portraits. His painting, initially veiled by the dark tones of his homeland, opened up to the vivid colors of the French metropolis, with brushstrokes that seemed to pulsate to the rhythm of his agitated spirit.
The final decade of his life was one of incredible productivity and concurrent psychic turmoil. He created over 2,000 works. It was a period marked by psychotic crises and declining mental health, which led to the famous incident in which he cut off an ear and, finally, to his suicide in July 1890, at the age of 37.
Letters to his brother Theo reveal a Van Gogh constantly in search of love, meaning, and some form of stability. Van Gogh questioned the meaning of existence, his own being in the world, and sought comfort in art, literature, and contemplation of nature. Despite efforts, his personal relationships remained complex and often conflictual. His life was an alternation of extreme hope and profound despair, a precarious balance between lofty aspirations and the reality of a tormented mind. The story of Van Gogh, therefore, is not just that of a genius artist, but also of a man who lived intensely every facet of the human experience.
Vincent Van Gogh intimately knew psychic suffering; his self-portraits, true fragments of a personal diary, reveal the emotional storms and the courage of a battling soul. His art was an extension of his life, a visual diary that documented his struggle to find meaning and beauty in a world that often found him incomprehensible. His legacy is not only that of an extraordinarily talented painter but also of a man whose life and work continue to touch the deepest chords of the human experience.
Immersing oneself in Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait through augmented reality means being able to scrutinize closely the dance of colors on the canvas, feel the vibrant energy of his brushstrokes, and confront the depth of his gaze, as if the artist were present before us. It is an experience that unites art and well-being through technology, offering not only knowledge but also a visceral, profound emotion.
Through the intense gaze of his Self-Portrait, we can almost feel the weight of his thinking mind, but also the strength of his artistic dedication. This self-portrait of Van Gogh, explored through augmented reality, can become a powerful metaphor for the inner journey that each of us can undertake. What does Van Gogh’s gaze communicate to you? How can this technological interaction enrich your appreciation for the art and the history it encompasses?
Share your augmented reality experience by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your thoughts and comments will find space in the upcoming articles of “The Artebinaria Gazette”.
The credits for the artwork are mentioned in the app “Artinside Museum” and are also provided below:
Vincent van Gogh, Self-Portrait
The Art Institute of Chicago.
Credits: Joseph Winterbotham Collection