I was standing right there, with dozens of others milling about or studying, or taking photos (no flash) at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. I took this photo at an angle, so we could see the thick paint layered in daubs and swirls by a solo man who stood in a field remembering the flight of crows with his palette knife and colors.
What in his imagination would ever draw this poor and troubled artist to think someone way in his future would be taking a photo with a communication device? How could he envision the massive amount of input that would be given to his collection? He would have to visualize people who observe his work, critique it, write papers about it, base their careers over it, steal it, pay money to see it, design machines that scan it, and to study the pigments of it. His images, that now belong to millions of people, were obscure during Vincent’s life.
Our Dutch tour guide pondered his museum purchase, (we had biked through a forest to the Kröller Muller art museum). What would Van Gogh think about his lens cleaner cloth? Yes, we thought, what about the candle holder, the bags with digital images taken of blossoms, beds and chairs, how would Vincent mull over those? How about that glitzy gift shop with his art work organized in colors, the yellow sunflowers, or the turquoise sky behind the blossoms. I’d like to think his Karma is in us now. It lives past the artist. It laughs at the irony, and seeps through the mental illness and pulls at the open heart.
I remember a statement made by a Van Gogh scholar, he did not paint because of his mental illness, but in spite of it.
I also saw Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum, a totally different painter than Van Gogh, born 221 years before him, with his milk maids, and shadows into light, the soft animated figures moving through Dutch life and making us wonder. Vermeer made a living with his art, unlike Van Gogh, he was “hired” to paint. He saw a different way of being than Van Gogh. What makes us observe these totally different painters? We are visitors here too, watching the art, seeing it move through our days defining a moment, somewhere, sometime, not an animal's pass time, but ours, a humans’, we are the only creatures that do this kind of thing. Whatever complexity that brings to us I can’t answer in this blog, but we can reflect on it, dear reader, in our own ways.
So today, I will cross hatch green in my trees, choose colors, and sit at my table in my basement. I will not have a museum surrounding my images years from now, or people who study my art, or run a microchip over it to define the colors of my Prisma pencils, but I feel grateful to share, perhaps that is all Van Gogh wanted, to share. He did.
Note: I learned that “Wheatfield with Crows” was not VVG’s last painting. There was a canvas on his easel after he committed suicide at age 37, abstract and intact. Some think of it as beautiful, some dark, it was surely different for the time, uninhibited, moving. Google it; “Tree Roots” What do you think? Note on this note: When this painting was first hung in the museum, it was upside down.