Wednesday, April 24, 2013

YouTube Video: "Art Eyes: The Eyes of Vincent Van Gogh"

This is a very short video (1 minute 14 seconds) put up by the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC of one of Vincent's many self-portraits.  It focuses on seeing Vincent's brushstrokes and glops of paint in places which tell just as much about what type of person Vincent was as does his physical features.

The thing that touches me the most about Vincent's art is that you can see his brushstrokes.  Those brushstrokes are the way Vincent achieves immortality.  I don not believe in God or heaven, but I do believe in brushstrokes.  Usually these are hidden or blended in so that the canvass looks like a photo -- even before the invention of cameras.  By letting us see his brushstrokes, Vincent was letting us peek into the creative fires of an artist.

Painting Focus: Cornfield with Cypresses, 1889

"I put my heart and soul into my work, and I have lost my mind in the process.” - Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh (1853 to 1890) went through several styles before settling on his trademark thick applications of vibrant colors. By July of 1889, he had less than one year to live. He also produced some of his best-known works, including one his most distinctive landscapes, “Cornfield with Cypresses.” Once considered worthless, this priceless work can be seen in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art ....

Please read the rest of my article at Helium.  Thanks! (Link has now been fixed. )

Thursday, April 4, 2013

"Dear Theo: The Autobiography of Vincent Van Gogh"; Edited by Iriving Stone: My Review

One of the most popular books about Vincent written is this edited collection of Vincent's letters to his long-suffering brother Theo.  Dear Theo: An Autobiography of Vincent Van Gogh (1937) begins when Vincent is full of missionary zeal and is off to the Borinage.  It goes on through his disillusion with the Church, with other artists and with life in general.  The collection was edited by Irving Stone, author of the popular fictional biography about Vincent, Lust for Life (1934.)

I'm not lucky enough to have a first edition, so this review is based on the far more available 1995 reprint with the cover shown at left.

This book is very hard going.  There are no footnotes explaining current politics, fads or nicknames.  There are also no pictures, so you need to read this in tandem with a book of Vincent's art or you could constantly Google names and painting titles.  This greatly interrupts the book's narrative flow. 

Vincent also would fall out with people he would glowingly write to his brother about in one letter and then never mention them again.  Vincent also suffered from paranoia and would describe in great detail conspiracies being plotted against him.  Since there is no mention in the book that these are just delusions, the reader does get the picture that Vincent was a long-suffering heroic target of the status quo.  He wasn't.  He was mostly ignored and survived only through the generosity of his brother and some other temporary patrons, but he was not the target of a sophisticated plot.

There are times when I wish I could've smacked Vincent upside the head.  Artistic genius or not, he was remarkably stupid.  He also would not shut up about money.  Granted, when I was homeless, I got a little obsessed over every penny I could get a hold of, but even I didn't grouse about it in every letter I sent my parents.

In conclusion, I don't recommend this book unless you are seriously nuts about Vincent and are familiar with the times Vincent lived in.

3 Best Starry Night Parodies

Vincent Van Gogh's "The Starry Night."  It's one of the most recognized and beloved paintings in the world.  It also is the basis for some killer parodies.

These are my three favorites and hopefully yours, too.  I have some more parodies of Vincent's works (not just "The Starry Night") up on my Pinboard appropriately named Van Gogh Parody Gallery.