We went to the Art Institute of Chicago today, with every single other resident of Illinois it seemed, so I didn’t get a single picture of the bedrooms he painted due to the crowds in front of them. But, I did get a few insights into Van Gogh’s life which I’d only read about before in Irving Stone’s biography of him, Lust For Life.
The museum portrayed a Van Gogh whose heart’s desire was for a home of his own, and this yellow house in Arles was the closest he ever got.
The letters he wrote to his brother, Theo, were as special to me as the paintings. I have an abiding fascination in the written word, of course, but seeing Vincent’s handwriting and sketches brought his life into special focus for me. I am filled with sorrow that handwritten letters have become so obsolete. Will museums put emails that have been printed in between panes of glass as the only artifacts of correspondence available some day?
This painting, with some stranger’s nose in the lower corner, was a particular favorite of my mother’s. It is the entrance to a park at Arles, which Van Gogh painted in a realistic fashion while his friend, Gaugin, advocated the use of imagination. I have no way to describe to you the intensity of color, the vibrancy of his paintbrush strokes, which made purchasing anything from the museum store unworthy.
I said farewell to the lions on either side of the museum entrance, glad for the exposure to beautiful art. Glad for the knowledge that Van Gogh loved painting, but also the works of Emile Zola and Guy de Maupassant.
He must not have been entirely crazy.