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Astrology at Work: Vincent Van Gogh (Part One)VanGoghImageOne

In this series I've pointed out several examples in which the timing of important a Saturn transit corresponds with a significant event in a person’s life. There are also many examples of this in my book, “Saturn Cycles: Mapping the Changes in Your Life.” However, these turning points don’t always have to come out of single event or a sudden change of heart. Sometimes, they come to us a gradual awakening.

Between Sept. 1886 and June 1887 Saturn moved across the Ascendant in Vincent Van Gogh’s horoscope three times. (Click here to see his horoscope.) During this time Vincent was living with his brother in Paris. He had come to Paris five months earlier after suffering a breakdown in Antwerp where he was trying, without much success, to conform his unique style of painting to the standards of the Antwerp Academy.

Previous to coming to Paris, Van Gogh had expressed no interest in the new painting, called Impressionism, that was becoming all the rage there. He had actually been in Paris ten years earlier during the first big exhibit of Impressionist paintings, but that was during his religious period. Van Gogh had been so focus on his desire to become a missionary that remained oblivious to the huge controversy that show caused in the art world.

Later, when his brother, Theo, encouraged Van Gogh (who then working in Hague) to paint with brighter colors as the Impressionist were doing, Vincent had objected strongly. He claimed that the blacks and deep browns he was using were the only way to express the suffering of the poor people in his paintings.

So, when Van Gogh landed in Paris he was in no way expecting to change his style of painting. By this time he was quite used to being the odd man out, and being criticized and rejected by the art world.
And yet, his style did change. His palette did become brighter. He was influenced by the younger painters who were searching for new styles that went beyond the conventions of the Impressionists. He studied Japanese prints. He saw the works of the pointillists and the radical paintings of Paul Gauguin.

When Van Gogh left Paris in Feb. 1888 (several months after the last contact of Saturn to his Ascendant) he left with a new attitude toward painting. The deep blacks and brown of his earlier works had been replaced by bright yellows and reds. He went to Arles in southern France where he made the painting that would change art in the western world forever.

Saturn works in many different ways. It can change our lives with sudden, earth-shaking events, or through a slow process of attrition. Either way, it causes us to make judgments about what we are doing and how we are living. The judgment that Vincent Van Gogh made during those crucial months in Paris was a good one, at least as far as his art was concerned. There were other important judgments that he could have made regarding his lifestyle, but those had to wait for another Saturn aspect. We'll examine that transit in another article.

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