Archive for the ‘Vincent Van Gogh’ Category

This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

120 years ago, on 29 July 1890, Vincent van Gogh died in Auver-sur-Oise, with his brother Theo at his side.

Starry night

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

Vincent Van Gogh / Dr Who

Two of my most favourite things in one this weekend. Dr Who meets Vincent Van Gogh. Richard (Four Weddings and a Funeral) Curtis produced a script crafted to push those emotional buttons. If the online reactions I’ve been reading are anything to go by, there were several million moist eyed viewers this evening. A tokenistic monster fighting narrative was, rightly, overshadowed by the examination of Vincent’s complex character. His insights into humanity, his battle with depression and his profound visual understanding were all skilfully woven into an action packed fifty minutes filled with humour and just enough edge to portray Vincent as a real person, not the more usual 2D caricature.  Of course the star of the episode was the visuals and the star of the visuals were the stars. Vincent, Amy and the Doctor lying down looking at the stars.

Hold my hand Doctor
try to see what I see
we’re so lucky we’re still alive to see this beautiful world
Look at the sky
It’s not dark and black without character
The black is, in fact, deep blue
and over there! lighter blue
and blowing through the blueness and the blackness
the wind swirling through the air
and then shining, burning, bursting through
the stars!
Can you see how they roll their light?
everywhere we look
the complex magic of nature blazes before our eyes

The doctor: I’ve see many things my friend, but you’re right, nothing quite as wonderful as the things you see.

more to follow…

Party like it’s 1888

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Party like it's 1888

They’re building a new metro line passing through Centraal Station in Amsterdam. What better opportunity than to use the temporary hoardings surrounding the construction site to display the work of young artists. Even cleverer is to provide downloadable copies of the works displayed. The one pictured above is a detail from Stefan Glerum’s history of Vincent Van Gogh’s life.

Would you like summat from the trolley?

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

The Bedroom, Vincent Van Gogh
Those lovely people at the Van Gogh Museum have kindly published a set of behind the scenes photos of their restoration work on Mr Vincent’s The Bedroom. This is one of my favourite paintings and I first saw it nearly thirty years ago and have been back several times since. The first version of The Bedroom was painted, like the others in Arles in 1888. Vincent got all excited by the impending arrival of Paul Gaugin and was, I understand, working hard to finish the canvass before Gaugin arrived. In a letter to Theo Van Gogh, Vincent beautifully describes the painting:

“This time it’s simply my bedroom, but the colour has to do the job here, and through its being simplified by giving a grander style to things, to be suggestive here of rest or of sleep in general. In short, looking at the painting should rest the mind, or rather, the imagination
The walls are of a pale violet. The floor — is of red tiles.
The bedstead and the chairs are fresh butter yellow.
The sheet and the pillows very bright lemon green.
The bedspread scarlet red.
The window green.
The dressing table orange, the basin blue.
The doors lilac.
And that’s all — nothing in this bedroom, with its shutters closed.

The solidity of the furniture should also now express unshakeable repose.
Portraits on the wall, and a mirror and a hand-towel and some clothes.
The frame — as there’s no white in the painting — will be white.
This to take my revenge for the enforced rest that I was obliged to take.
I’ll work on it again all day tomorrow, but you can see how simple the idea is. The shadows and cast shadows are removed; it’s coloured in flat, plain tints like Japanese prints.”

The term is now much overused but ‘iconic’ this painting was for Vincent and for the viewer it perhaps evokes the comfort and simple enjoyment we get from our most private space, our bedroom. A place of solace and escape where we are surrounded by things we love and can spend time away from the world to become refreshed and renewed.

He made three versions of the painting. The first (pictured above) is now being restored at its home in Amsterdam. The second version now lives at the Art Institute of Chicago. It is larger than the other two and I saw this about ten years ago. The third, which now lives at the Musee d’Orsay, I first saw when it lived at the old Jeu de Paume gallery one sultry August day when, in the searing heat of that naturally ventilated Salon, it was easy to experience the climatic conditions in which the canvass was painted.  How astonished would Vincent be to know where his three ‘Bedrooms’ have ended up. How lucky am I to have seen all three and love them still. What I wouldn’t give to have a push of that trolley.

Note to self
Do not keep six week old 90% empty bottles of wine in the fridge. More importantly, do not keep freshly opened bottles alongside them.

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