Friday, September 18, 2009

Allen and Ginter- Van Gogh card

I wanted to share a a cool non-sports card that I pulled tonight.

It's the Van Gogh card.

I had already seen this card on other blogs so I knew that it was going to be a card of him as a kid. When I first saw the checklist I was thinking that it was going to be something along the lines of this instead:

or this:

These are the first images that come to my mind when I think of Van Gogh. You can see in the first self-portrait(1887) that he's still using a more impressionistic style of painting. By the time he painted the second painting (1889) he had started to use his trademark "wavy lines" in the background.

In the first painting you can see how the left side of his face (our left and his right) stands out against the background. Van Gogh painted that part of the background lighter than the rest and the green really compliments the bright orange of his mustache. Their is a hint of orange in his left eye (our right) which looks off the frame of the painting.

Actually the card image came from this photo of him at about age 13 when he was in the boarding school in Zevenbergen.

On the back of the card it mentions a few of his most famous paintings.

The Potato Eaters. I know that when he started painting he was really interested in Rembrandt. Mainly because he liked the Chiaroscuro style of painting and I'm guessing because the both of them were Dutch.


Actually he has a lot of paintings of sunflowers and most are labeledl "Still Life with Sunflowers". Sorry for the bad scan of the pages, but I'm too lazy to scan both pages separately. I just wanted to give examples of the different types of sunflower paintings that he did. It's more fun to go through my old books to find photos of the paintings than just looking online.

The Starry Night. According to the card it says this was painted from the view from his sanitarium window. I couldn't find anything in my books to confirm that, but I'm too tired to look through all my art history books right now. I know that he was hospitalized a few times for mental illness and of course when he cut his ear off.

This is a quote from one of his many letters to his brother Theo about this painting.
"Is that all, or is there more to come? Perhaps death is not the hardest thing in a painter's life."

"For my own part, I declare I know nothing whatever about it, but looking at the stars always makes me dream, as simply as I dream over the black dots representing towns and villages on a map. Why, I ask myself, shouldn't the shining dots of the sky be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France? Just as we take the train to get to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to reach a star."

When I first got into Van Gogh I tried my hand at recreating one of his paintings. I don't know why I picked this particular one to copy. I think it's because that summer I had worked on a farm and this type of subject matter appealed to me.

Here is the Van Gogh version. This is actually his copy of a Millet painting. He was into Millet a lot, doing many different versions of "the Sower".

Here is mine. Yeah I know. The blue is really weird looking. I might have run out of a normal color of blue and only had that one laying around.

This is a portrait I did in prismacolor pencil. Prismacolors are like a thicker more expensive colored pencil. The point is sort of like a crayon.

Everybody always seems to guess who this is, even though now she's not in the limelight much anymore. This is done in more of a Pointillism style instead of a post-impressionist or expressionist style. Suerat was a big pointillism guy.

Towards the end of his life he painted a lot of wider, horizontal paintings. Most of them are serene pastoral settings and themes.

Like this painting titled: Wheat Field under Clouded Sky. Doesn't seem really cloudy or sad to me. The flat, soft brushstrokes and muted colors don't really interest me much. And really doesn't seem so cloudy either. A few of his other paintings at that time could be connected to getting into the mindset of the artist. But for me the most telling of all his paintings and my personal favorite is one that he painted in the last month of his life.

It is usually titled "Crows in the Wheat field" or "Wheat field with Crows".

Some people believe he actually shot himself in those same fields before walking back to his room at the boarding house. Nobody knows for sure where exactly he shot himself, but he was attended to by one of his friends and occasional model Dr. Gachet.

The hurried, chaotic brushstokes and the wild colors seem to support the arguement that the painting shows the mindset of a suicidal artist. Look at the bright yellow wheat contrasted against the dark blue sky with the black crows flying towards the viewer. In the first painting you can see that the paint is evenly applied to the canvas whereas in "Crows in the Wheat Field" you can actually see the gobs of paint that he glopped on the canvas. When I see this painting I think of a mad artist splashing paint onto a large canvas in a fit. In actuality it might not have been that way. I'm not sure what his actual painting habits were. Maybe I need to do some research on that.

In another letter to Theo. (He wrote lots of letters to Theo and Gaugin among others) he mentions that the crows are like birds in a cage that have everything they need to support themselves, but are still yearning to be set free to fly with the other birds.

According to friends and family in his final three days between shooting himself and finally succumbing he looked at piece with himself and his life. Hopefully he found the peace he was looking for.

Thanks for indulging me on this little foray into one of my favorite painters. I wish I had more patience and time to go into more detail. Maybe some other time.


Collective Troll said...

Wow, awesome post! Great history lesson, I appreciate it!

Jeremy said...

Thanks Marck. I'm glad you liked it. It was fun looking through all those painting books.