Saturday, April 30, 2016

Vincent van Gogh ~ 1853-1890

On May 4, 2012, my family and I went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see the special exhibit, Van Gogh, Up Close. 

Self Portrait ~ 1889

One of the most famous and prolific artists of all time, post-impressionist,  Vincent van Gogh painted over 900 pieces in a period of less than ten years. He only sold one painting in his lifetime and was continually tormented by mental and physical illnesses. At the age of 37, he shot himself in the chest and died two days later. His younger brother and best friend, Theo, who supported him financially and spiritually over the years, died six months after Vincent and is buried next to him in Auvers, France. Theo's widow, Johanna, left all alone with a young child to raise, dedicated herself to promoting and selling Vincent's artwork. She is the main reason Vincent's work finally got the recognition it so rightly deserved.

"It was he [Vincent] who helped me to accommodate my life in such a way that I can be at peace with myself. Serenity - this was the favorite word of both of them [Vincent and Theo], the something they considered the highest. Serenity - I have found it." ~ Johanna van Gogh

Iris, The ~ 1889

The show focused mainly on the work produced in the last four years of Vincent's life. Many of the pieces in the exhibit were florals and landscapes. Featured here are some of the paintings present in the show, many of which, were unknown to me.

"What am I in most people's eyes? A nonentity or an eccentric and disagreeable man... I should want my work to show what is in the heart of such an eccentric, of such a nobody." ~ Vincent van Gogh

Although the perspective seems a bit off in this piece, the power of the gigantic, gnarled trees and the soft, warm, muted color palette really draws you in.

"Do not quench your inspiration and your imagination; do not become the slave of your model." ~ Vincent van Gogh

During the period when Vincent was staying in an asylum in Saint-Remy-de-Provence, France, he painted many close-up, still life, nature pieces.

"I want to touch people with my art. I want them to say, 'He feels deeply, he feels tenderly." ~ Vincent van Gogh

This joyful little painting (about 8" x 12") of a back lit tree in a field of cheerful yellows, red and green, made me feel that Vincent must have had some really satisfying, blissful days. One could sense his delight while painting this one.

"How lovely yellow is! It stands for the sun." ~ Vincent van Gogh

Rain ~ 1889

On the other side of the coin, this one actually brought tears to my eyes. Painted from his asylum window, Vincent's deep feelings of pain, anguish and desperation are evident.

"As a suffering creature, I cannot do without something greater than I – something that is my life – the power to create." ~ Vincent van Gogh

There were few portraits among the many pieces in the exhibit, but I like this painting of him next to this photograph.

"It isn't an easy job to paint oneself – at any rate if it is to be different from a photograph. And you see – this, in my opinion, is the advantage that impressionism possesses over all the other things; it is not banal, and one seeks after a deeper resemblance than the photograph." ~ Vincent van Gogh

Blossoming Almond Tree ~ 1890

"What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?" ~ Vincent van Gogh

The last painting, one of the best-loved in the exhibit, was this Blossoming tree with a turquoise background. It was painted as a gift to Theo's newborn son, Vincent. He was born three months prior to his namesake and famous uncle's suicide.

All these images are in the public domain and are copyright free in the United States.

See photos taken at the Philadelphia Museum of Art here.

Although Vincent never experienced the validation and fame he deserved, his mission in life certainly has been accomplished; probably more than almost any other artist that has ever lived.

"I want to touch people with my art. I want them to say, 'He feels deeply, he feels tenderly." ~ Vincent van Gogh

X ♥  O

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