I had a really amazing time at the Van Gogh exhibition last week. Van Gogh has always been, to me, one of those artists that seemed untouchable and magical. Like maybe he just arrived on this earth as a fully formed artist, with a whole new technique, and blew everyone’s minds away.
If I’d stopped to think I would have acknowledged that made no sense, but you never really do stop and think until you’re given a reason to. (I know I’m not just speaking for myself here.) It was fascinating to learn about his life and to trace his work through the 10 (ten! only ten!) year period he was creating art: from when he was 27 through to 37 (1880 – 1890). I could watch him learn skills and change subject matter and gain confidence. The exhibition took the time to point out who Van Gogh was influenced by, from older print makers and European pastoral painters, to Japanese woodblock artists and contemporary European impressionists. I could really see that it did take him years and years before he started making the work that we think of as ~Van Gogh~. That yes, these paintings came from him and his unique take on the world, but that they also came from centuries of traditions and his particular time and place in history and that he had to struggle and practise and learn to get there.
Also, I just wanted to walk straight into many of his paintings because they were so beautiful. One I didn’t take a picture of but also really loved was Trees and undergrowth (July 1887 Paris), which just had that perfect feel of cool shade on a hot summer’s day. Argh. Beautiful.
Anyway it was great 🙂 Sadly, the pictures are not, because it was super crowded (even at 9:30am on a Monday) so I just quickly snapped them to give me references I could look up again later.
[4 pictures of Van Gogh paintings, each with their label (link) giving further details. The 4 paintings are:
1. Tree trunks in the grass
late April 1890, Saint-Remy
2. Horse chestnut tree in blossom
mid May 1887, Paris
3. Pine trees at sunset
December 1889, Saint-Remy
4. Snow-covered field with a harrow (after Millet)
January 1890, Saint-Remy]