We think of Vincent van Gogh as an artist, famed for his starry nights, his floral tributes, and his raffia-work seating. But, he was also an innovator and an entrepreneur, suggests a paper published in the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business and modern business people might learn a thing or two from his style.
Jos Pieterse of Fontys University of Applied Sciences, in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, and colleagues have analysed letters from the 19th century and expert observations of Van Gogh’s activities and work experts as well as guides to the Vincentre Van Gogh museum. They also asked 25 students specialising in innovation and entrepreneurship to give their opinions of Van Gogh’s entrepreneurial skills.
We know that Van Gogh was a hard worker based on his prodigious artistic output. The new findings show the innovative and entrepreneurial potential of Van Gogh to reflect his imagination, creativity, and analytical skills. However, based on his apparent lack of financial acumen we can say only with hindsight that he was artistically far ahead but not recognized by his audience.
“The whole field of artistic innovation and entrepreneurship deserves to be better researched for a mutual learning effect for organisational science to learn from this field and vice versa,” the team writes. “The work of Vincent van Gogh both in his drawings, paintings and letters are just one [tragic] example.”
Ulijn, J., Veldhoen, A., Bekkers-Vermeulen, J., Hendrikse, S., Pieterse, J. and Saych, N. (2020) ‘Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890), innovator and entrepreneur: an experiential report of Van Gogh guides in Nuenen’, Int. J. Entrepreneurship and Small Business, Vol. 40, No. 3, pp.337–372.