These images are a selection of photographs produced for National Geographic over 25 years ago—both published and never seen. My hope was that black & white film and a formal square frame would transport the reader back in time, allowing them to stay by Van Gogh’s side, as he traveled through his elevated and tortured life.
The original images—modest next to van Gogh’s extravagant reality—were made in the places where he walked, lived, painted, and suffered. Vincent’s trove of letters, written and received, were my guide from place to place, pencil sketch to painting. Read in cafes and taxis, under trees and in trains—the letters had the power to engage body and spirit.
Newer photographs focus on the women patients at Saint-Paul de Mausole Asylum—the same asylum where Van Gogh sought help for his mental illness in 1889. There, the women paint, not as therapy, but to heal their identities, unmoored by trauma or biology.
Both the original and new images are fragments of a meditation on why we as humans, need creativity at our core—why the art spirit is a life force that can fuel both wonder and addiction.