Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Van Gogh Museum

While on route to Mexico, I had the opportunity to make a 6-hour layover/pit stop in Amsterdam. Because of the time constraint I had to make the tough decision between visiting the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. I final decided upon The Van Gogh museum. I may have missed out on seeing the work of Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn however I was able to gain a unique understanding and appreciation for the oeuvre de Van Gogh. The Museum showed the progression of Van Gogh as an artist from his naturalistic Sketches, to his First

attempt at a master piece, The Potato Eaters, and from his works inspired by Japanese art to his paintings done in the latter years of his life at St. Remy where he was hospitalized due to mental instability. It is always a different experience to stand in front of a piece of artwork that one has only seen through reproduction. What is more, taking the time to stand in front of works of art and copy the work of masters, learning from their use of color and shadows sheds life upon the hidden world of the artists. Two paintings that I particularly enjoyed were The Sower (1888) and The Boulevard de Clichy (1887).

The striking use of contrasting colors in the work of Van Gogh makes me think of his letter he writes from Arles where he talks about how he is not concerned about accurately portraying the color he sees in nature and is more concerned with making his pallet replicate the beauty he sees in nature. The vibrant yellow of the hay and the deep rich violets of the sower and the tree certainly communicate beauty.

The Boulevard de Clichy was painted after the beginning of the impressionism movement when Van Gogh stopped criticizing the movement and started eperimenting with the techniques of the impressionist. In this painting Van Gogh places strong colors close to each other in opposition modeled after technique of pointillism.

One thing that I did not realize about Van Gogh, prior to my visit, was the amount of writing that he did in his lifetime. He wrote over 800 letters, about life, art and society. It is humbling to see the great amount of passion Artists such as Van Gogh had in their pursuits of discovering life through his work. He saw beauty in the mundane things of life, observing the world around him through painting up until his death in 1870.

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