I met Vincent Van Gogh. I met him in Chicago, and he explained things to me that I never could have guessed. Stories about his life, his hopes and his deep despair, the beauty he saw in the world and the dedication he had to get that down in paint.
Sometimes the legend and life story of an artist can overshadow their artwork. I’ve seen a number of paintings by Vincent Van Gogh over the years (although only a very small number when compared to his massive output), and many of them are extraordinary. But none of them have ever struck me like the 1887 Self Portrait that hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago.
Layer upon layer of paint. Thousands and tens of thousands of tiny brush-strokes. And all of the luminous COLORS!
The whole Post-impressionist collection is amazing. Gauguin, Cezanne, Seurat, Toulouse-Lautrec, and many many other fine painters. But this one Self Portrait by Van Gogh in the corner of the room kept calling to me. I would try to look at the other paintings, but I knew my conversation with Van Gogh wasn’t finished. I would go to different levels of the museum, but would wander back to check in on Van Gogh again. There were other paintings by Van Gogh in the room, important paintings like The Bedroom or Madam Roulin Rocking The Cradle, but they just didn’t have quite as much to say to me.
The internet is a powerful tool. We can communicate, share ideas, and even create artwork using the internet. For some pieces of art though, you just need to go and see them in person. If you’re ever in Chicago, please take some time and say “hello” to Van Gogh for me. Maybe he will talk with you, maybe he won’t, but I think you’ll be glad you stopped in.
Yep, I met Vincent Van Gogh. I’m sure he doesn’t remember, but it made quite an impression on me!