“In painting I want to say something comforting in the way music is comforting. I want to paint men and women with that element of the eternal that was formerly symbolized by the halo, and that we try to express by the actual radiance and vibration of our colours.”
(Vincent Van Gogh, letter to his brother Theo, 1888)
Vincent has become the post-child symbolizing the crazy, mad ‘modern’ artist (genius?) for many in the Western World. His life was a life of constant struggle on so many levels as we will see as we start investigating the emergence of a “cry for freedom” within the ranks of the creative class—notably the artists.
In his paintings, Vincent unleashed the power of line, the strength of color, and the audacity of his vision. Isn’t that what we have come to expect of the creative class? Of our artists? During Vincent’s lifetime, men and women for the most part would have nothing to do with Vincent. He was different. He was possessed! (In the 1880s, Europe felt epilepsy was akin to being possessed by Satan! Vincent, when he experienced an epileptic seizure, could see that fear and loathing in the eyes of those who just happened to be in his space when he had a seizure. Emotionally, that visual experience for Vincent was crushing. His dying words to his brother, Theo were the following: “Misery will never end.”
What are your initial thoughts regarding Vincent as we enter our study of the early world of Modern Art? And more importantly, with Vincent as the protagonist here, What do you want your artists to be?