“I am working as one possessed … For the trees are in blossom and I would like to produce a Provencal orchard of incredible gaiety … In God’s name send me that paint at once. The season of blossoming orchards is just so short.” -Vincent Van Gogh, in a letter to his brother, Theo, at the time of his painting The Pink Peach Tree, 1888
Two weeks ago, I had the wonderful privilege to tour Amsterdam, the Netherlands, with a native Dutch friend. It was an incredible experience as a whole, as I blogged about here. But one of the biggest treats was to spend the day in the Van Gogh Museum with her.
Two things about my tour of the Van Gogh Museum:
1) It is always a pleasure to tour an art museum, especially one as large and well-done as the Van Gogh, with someone else who appreciates art and the artist. Big thanks to my friend!
2) If you have ever attempted to tour an art museum, grand or small, with children in tow, you know what a luxury it is to tour it at leisure, without being hurried.
Vincent Van Gogh wrote many letters, and from those letters, the Museum pieces together his life with the art he created. On a certain day, one letter said, Vincent wrote a letter, and this is what he said: emblazoned upon a wall at the beginning of the Museum, he wrote that he decided to become an artist. That statement has stuck with me:
Vincent Van Gogh decided to become an artist.
I find this statement to be remarkable, because even though Van Gogh had not shown any talent or interest in being an artist until that time (his mid-to-late twenties), he decided it. He would become an artist. Even with failed first efforts at becoming a teacher, and a clergyman, and without the support of his parents, he set out to do what his heart said to do. Become an artist.
He started with the dark and dreary palettes, and with a canvas known as the Potato Eaters.
Soon after, when the Potato Eaters was not accepted as he hoped it would be, he moved to Paris to live with his brother and first encountered the Impressionists. That was when his work was set free.
Soon after, he began painting with color and with life.
Though Vincent Van Gogh is well known for other things (like cutting off his ear, and a too-early death), he also made significant contributions to the world with his work and his passion for art. My love for painting was renewed with the visit, as was my inspiration. I am excited to paint more often, and with more abandon of what others consider to be the proper techniques / results, etc. Art is great and becomes great when it is free.
I highly recommend the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, a celebration of the contributions and life of one of Holland’s great artists.
Do you have a favorite Van Gogh piece of work? Which is it?