|Green Wheat Field, Auvers|
This past Thursday I had an opportunity to visit, albeit briefly, the National Gallery once more. It was wonderful.
I quickly found my way to the Impressionists, the painters who opened the doors to modern art. There I found famous paintings by Matisse, Gauguin, Monet, Toulous Lautrec, and others of importance. Here I wish to share two pieces by Vincent Van Gogh.
What is it that gives Van Gogh's paintings such power? In part, it's undoubtedly because as you study the work you can feel the energy that was emanating from the man himself as he produced these pieces.
The first piece is here is Green Wheat Fields, Auvers.
|Close up of cloud on the horizon.|
The painting itself is 28 3/4 x 36 5/8 inches and was painted in Auvers-sur-Oise, in the countryside north of Paris. Most of Van Gogh's paintings and drawings featured objects from life or working people, peasants, potato farmers, etc. This piece was from a series of "pure landscapes" as well as some of the thatched roof houses and other structures in this town.
|The left foreground.|
If this were true, that he was more at peace with himself here at this time and feeling good about his recovery, then Steven Naifeh's suggestion that Van Gogh did not shoot himself may have more merit than is generally recognized.
As for the painting itself, several thoughts come to mind simultaneously. Chief of these is the thickness of the medium, the manner in which he applied the paints. Note, too, the movement of the clouds, those swirls of splendor. Another thought I had, however, upon noticing cracks in the aged surface, was how very difficult it must be for a forger to re-create this kind of work. Those guys have to be incredibly talented, or the authorities incredibly flawed.
And then, there's this powerful Van Gogh Self Portrait.
Van Gogh painted as many as 36 self-portraits. This one in the National Gallery is quite stunning. Was it vanity that provoked him into producing so many slef-portraits? No, I do not believe this. I think he was simply interested in studying how to paint faces, capture the panels of light and shadow that form, and perhaps capture the interior of the subject.
That, for what it's worth, is my speculation. Were I to read his letters I might find other reasons. He painted this one while at the asylum in St. Remy. According to the National Gallery he stated that this one captured his true character. Look at those eyes, and the expression, the play of light and the energy. This is a beautiful painting, and in person it's magnetic. Located in a room filled with great paintings it captures and holds.
Vincent Van Gogh was born in 1853, seven years before the American Civil War. He died in 1890, 37 years later.
For additional background, read this NYTimes story, Van Gogh’s ‘Green Wheat Fields, Auvers’ Goes to Washington.
Meantime, art goes on all around you. Get into it.
*National Gallery website.