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March 30: Vincent van Gogh’s Birthday


It’s Vincent van Gogh’s Birthday. Born on this day in 1853 in the Netherlands, Vincent went on to become one of the most influential and famous painters in human history. He took Post-Impressionism to a whole new level. So, did Vincent like a drink or two? He did. He liked to say that “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together,” and he applied that idea to his drinking as well as his art. He would combine a lot of drinks, small and large, particularly absinthe, and get roaring drunk on a regular basis. To the degree that some scholars say you can see the visual effects of absinthe in his more famous paintings, such as The Starry Night. And more directly, he sometimes just painted absinthe itself, such as his famous Still Life with Absinthe, and many self portraits of himself drinking absinthe. Hey, he liked absinthe. Now, some modern-day pouty-faces like to say all that heavy drinking negatively affected his work, but the fact of the matter is Vincent was most productive and knocked out his best paintings while in deepest depths of a two-year absinthe bender. He used it for inspiration and to recover from those intense feats of creation, and I quote, “After that, the only thing to bring ease and distraction, in my case and other people’s too, is to stun oneself with a lot of drinking and smoking.”

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Editor/Publisher of Modern Drunkard Magazine.