Musings on Van Gogh


I am seeking, I am stirring, I am in it with all my heart.

– Vincent Van Gogh

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

One day I hope to see “Starry Night” in person rather than on a computer screen or in an art book.  It’s my favorite of Van Gogh’s works as there is something dreamlike and magical about his view of the night sky.   I’ve been fortunate to see some of his other works in a few museums throughout my travels, but “Starry Night” remains on my bucket list.

The National Gallery in London has a beautiful collection of Van Gogh paintings and I make it a point to visit them whenever I wander into Trafalgar Square.  The first time I saw “Sunflowers” in person, I literally forgot how to breathe. I’d seen postcards and images in books, but nothing compares to personally witnessing the broad brushstrokes that define his unique style.  The paint jumps up from the canvas and gives even the most ordinary objects incredible flare.   I’ve spent hours staring at his paintings as they evoke powerful emotions and inspire fascinating trains of thought.

Van Gogh lead an interesting life filled with bouts of illness and insanity, but no one can deny he lived with passion.  Something beautiful lived inside of him and it came out of his paintbrush, with purpose and chaos. Perhaps it was his way of sorting out the mess in his head, where everything splintered between reality and imagination.  Somehow the two sides of him collide in erratic mosaics in bold colors.  Each stroke is a mad dash that makes no sense, but when it connects to the rest, a cascade of wonder fills the canvas.

Call it insanity, creativity, passion, or art, Van Gogh showed the world what it means to live out loud and in color.  We may sometimes be broken, weak, and fractured, but we are beautiful when all the pieces come together.  Van Gogh chose to seek when nothing made sense. He stirred when everyone told him to stay still.  He was in it with all his heart, even when it hurt.  We should all be so bold.

Van Gogh's "Wheat Field With Cypresses" re-imagined with live greenery. National Gallery, London, June 2011, c.b.w.

I’ve posted this image before, but its still one of the more interesting things I saw in London last summer.  Outside the National Gallery, a wall of live greenery created a garden representation of “Wheat Field With Cypresses.” It’s fun to compare it to the actual painting:

Wheat Field With Cypresses by Vincent Van Gogh

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c.b. 2012