The Sociogenesis of Vincent van Gogh’s Fundamental Artistic Disposition

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Vincent van Gogh is one of the most well-known and influential artists in the western tradition. A sociological analysis of his creative practice, therefore, not only illuminates particularly consequential interventions in the history of art, with its knock-on effects for cultural consumption, but affords an opportunity for deepening our understanding of cultural production per se. At stake, I argue, is a fundamental artistic disposition – in this case, an aesthetic orientation toward nature and sentiment – persisting through if not underpinning changes of style, and the paper reconstructs the myriad forces involved in the genesis of this disposition in van Gogh’ early years. It draws upon the conceptual tools of Pierre Bourdieu to do so, but goes beyond them by stressing the importance of familial heritage and ‘second order’ field effects in shaping the young van Gogh’s aesthetic sympathies long before he briefly entered the French artistic field in his final year of life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-138
Number of pages16
JournalCultural Sociology
Issue number2
Early online date7 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Provisional acceptance date added.


  • art
  • Bourdieu
  • disposition
  • habitus
  • Vincent Van Gogh


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