Thursday, April 23, 2009

Did van Gogh have Celiac Disease?

"Starry Night" after Vincent van Gogh, fabric paint on onsie
by Erin Rogers Pickering for Ava when she was a baby

My random thought of the day...
I often think about van Gogh, he is one of my favorite painters and I have always been disturbed by the version of him I learned back in school - that he was crazy. After visiting France in 2000 and seeing where he lived in Auvers, I felt that history had done him an injustice. There have been so many theories on what tortured van Gogh and drove him to suicide, and many have not been kind. He shot himself in a wheat field. Hmmm... a wheat field.

What we know is that Vincent van Gogh was a genius; his art is unparalleled. We know he was gaunt, depressed, behaved erratically, was thought to be bipolar, complained of gastrointestinal problems, dental problems, headaches, tired/dry eyes, and fatigue. And - that he shot himself in a wheat field.

What if he wasn't a starving artist, but suffering from malabsorption? What if a gluten free diet could have saved him - and allowed his genius to continue?

What is your life's work? Your genius? What is stopping you from living fully and living gluten-free?


elizabeth atkinson said...

wow, great theory! will have to send to a few GF artists i know :)

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Kelly said...

Back in the day paints were mix with minerals that are not used today. And being around them all the time cause health issues.

Diary of a Madd Weekly Painter said...

Hi Erin, thought you might want to check out this website I found by accident about GF mixes. I tried to make it a clickable link but it doesn't appear to be there. And that is an interesting theory. I have always loved Van Gogh and thought history did him wrong, too. He said something about himself as a painter,that went sorta like this "It's like being a puff of smoke coming from a chimney. And people just pass by and never notice". How very sad.

simoart said...

Your blog is very interesting. I am glad that the gluten free diet has worked for you.

Abby Lanes said...

Your site is lovely.
It's always intersting to ponder what happened to cause historical tragedies. Van Gogh was amazing.

Unknown said...

Love your site! I'm adding the link to my blog. Keep up the great job!

a kelly said...

I think of the what if's in my own family aunt who died of stomach cancer in her 50's, my cousins who had mental health issues...and I wonder. What if they had tried a gf diet??
It's helped me in so many ways but I still have occasional set backs. Ugh. I'm mostly grain free now and that seems to help the healing process. At least there is hope now instead of downward spiral of health woes.
Feeling well enough to write. The gluten had silenced me. With wellness came the words.

love your blog.

Unknown said...

Van Gogh was more of a schizophrenia |ˌskitsəˈfrēnēə; -ˈfrenēə|
a long-term mental disorder of a type involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behavior, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation.
• (in general use) a mentality or approach characterized by inconsistent or contradictory elements.
if he had iliac disease, which is very rare, he would not have had the mental organization to pick a wheat field, that is very high level metaphoric reasoning. if you remember he cut off his ear, in an act of love and give it to a prostitute. In dutch "give me your ear" or to that extent is a saying of affection and he took it literally which this type of mental illness does do. If you notice from the beginning his paintings were more organized and as the disease progressed, they deteriorated . I believe the rejection by the prostitute was one of the final straws. Most people do notice nothing so that part of the smoke in the chimney is common. He felt that many things in his life were personal, they are not. Read Ruiz book 'the four agreements". he was hospitalized for mental treatment several times. Genius is not mental illness and people should not believe that. he began to paint only at 29 and a few years before his death. if you examine the heavy thick anger driven piles of paint put on with the palate knife, you can feel his frustration. Gluten allergies, probably not. Especially in Europe where food is more controlled than ours; and more organic. you have made a case for people to eat organic, non pesticide treated grains. Many problems in this country are in our "gut" our second brain. if he were sick, it started in his gut, but his brain was certainly damaged, but thankfully, he had great artistic talent. Bad karma took his brother, Theo, whom he loved. He was incommunicative and sullen which is characteristic. You have a great theme and we should all take care of our health and rightly, gluten is our enemy. Most of us though, gluten free or not, will not have the great impressionists feelings or talents, which were not accepted at that time.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loztnausten said...

Interesting discussion.

WRT whether Van Gogh was celiac or schizophrenic, there's beginning to be consideration that these two conditions are actually connected.

Great post, Erin!

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Kenya Believe It?.... said...

I have often wondered this myself. If he was well enough to know something was wrong multiple personality disorder doesn’t fit. He got better when he checked himself in. Better diet. Less beer. No beer. While visiting the Van Gough museum, I had the chance to read his letters. Celiacs kept coming to mind.