Saturday, May 26, 2007

Vincent van Gogh: Starry Night Over the Rhone (1888)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Let's take a break from blogging about Iraq, Bush, and the Dems. (More on that, and on much else, soon enough.)

Although I consider Van Gogh to be wildly overrated and overexposed -- consider those ubiquitous sunflowers, for example, or those hugely popular stars and swirls -- there is no denying his influence on modern art, and specifically on expressionism, and there is also no denying the diversity of his work. Just as Monet was about more than waterlilies, so was Van Gogh about more than poster-friendly still lifes and self-portraits (and a famous ear). Consider the selection of his work here and here.

This painting -- Starry Night Over the Rhone -- is one of my favourite Van Goghs. It is similar to the more famous Starry Night -- yet I find it significantly more beautiful.


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  • Reminds me of the starry nights I used to see before I had Lasik.

    Unfortunately he's been used and mythologized as the suffering and unappreciated genius who never sold a painting the public loves rather than the guy whose talent - if it was that - appeared only after many years of mediocrity, help from his brother and some heavy drug use.

    I think his best works are stunning and photos cannot convey this well, but a trip to the Van Gogh Museum reveals a lot of ugly canvas.

    By Blogger Capt. Fogg, at 11:04 AM  

  • Hype notwithstanding, I can't categorize Van Gogh as overrated, simply because I've never seen paintings that cause such visceral and emotional reactions in me as his works do, although I agree that photos give his best stuff short shrift. Crows Over A Wheatfield is one of the most intense paintings I've ever seen face to face, probably on a level with the first time I saw Desmoiselles d'Avignon. Both of them, as I came upon them in the gallery, set me back on my heels. The power and flow of form and color in both of those paintings is really intense and powerful and beyond intent and irony and attempt at parable. They require nothing more than the image they convey.

    I do agree that his paintings are commoditized and overexposed and his life and madness is excessively romanticized. I still like Mozart in spite of Amadeus and the nougat candies that permeate Austrian markets. I still think the Doors' first album and the Soft Parade (probably 5 people in the world agree with that, but I dig it) are landmark musical accomplishments in spite of the decapitated headstone at Pére Lachaise. Besides, at least it's something of a modicum of value to have as a viral meme. Don't people always bitch about the dreck we watch on TV and listen to on the radio? Well, if van Gogh or Monet get a bit overexposed, that's much better than another rash of boy bands (not that I think there will be a dearth of those in the future).

    So uh... my point was that I dig Van Gogh, so there.

    By Blogger Spanky Quigman, at 6:42 AM  

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