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 Diana Billings Art Blog

Vincent Van Gogh.

Vincent Van Gogh was born in Zundert, Netherlands on March 30, 1853 and died at Auvers-sur-Oise, France on July 29, 1890.

I have always been a fan of Impressionism and Van Gogh has been a favourite of mine since I can remember. I know that we often see and hear so much about Van Gogh, and I believe it’s for good reason. His brilliant use of colour and brushwork leave many of us in awe. I’m sad to say I have never had an opportunity to see any on his artwork in person.

Years ago I read “Lust for Life” by Irving Stone published in 1934. This was a book I could not put down. I read it on the bus, at lunch hours and late into the evening.

In 2021, the Van Gogh Immersive exhibition came to town and I think we spent over 2 hours basking in the colours and lighting effects. I loved it!

There have been a number of movies about Van Gogh. In 1956, Lust for Life was made into a movie staring Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn, a movie that is worth seeing with two very fine actors. Two others that I watched and enjoyed very much are “At Eternity’s Gate” with Willem Dafoe and “Loving Vincent’, which is a visual masterpiece.

Though Van Gogh is considered Post Impressionistic his influences are very impressionistic. Van Gogh’s time in Arles and Auvers-sur-Oise were periods if great strife for him, but where he produce some of his most prodigious artwork. In Arles he painted more than 200 pictures and more than 80 during his time at Auvers.

One of my favourite painting is from him time in Arles “ Blossoming Almond Trees”. Painted in 1890 as a gift for his nephew and namesake.

The sky is of the clearest blue, I thank the clearest Van Gogh ever painted. The blossoms have a whiteness that spring forward from the wintery branches. The hope of new life and spring is evident. The painting is like a proclamation for new life. Looking at it give me a sense of hope and happiness.

Van Gogh was influenced and had great appreciation for Japanese art and this contributed to the style of the almond blossoms painting. After painting “Blossoming Almond Trees”, he wrote a letter to Theo his brother, saying “My work has gone well - the last painting was of branches in blooms. You will see that I painted this picture most patiently and skilfully, in utter peace and quiet, with greatest certainty of brush strokes.”

I like to think that Van Gogh was happy at this time, and to read that he had some peace in his life and mind. This make me feel like he may not have suffered so much in his life. To read that he took great care on this painting, he must have felt love and a celebration of life was there for his new nephew. Was there a thought when his nephew was born and given his name, that his name and family would live on in the future?

Conversely, there is thought that the stress of the self discipline that it took for him to accomplish this painting may have caused him to become ill.

The painting now resides in The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

I believe that things happen for a reason. As I was writing this I decided to listen to some Clint Mansell music. He is a modern classic composer and often writes film scores. One favourite of mine is for the movie “The Fountain”. Searching his playlists I found he also wrote the music for

“Loving Vincent”. So fittingly I listened to the film score of “Loving Vincent” as I wrote, I am so moved by his music, it is truly perfect for the film. I hope you feel the deep passion I feel for Vincent Van Gogh, his paintings bring joy and sadness all at once for me.


Source: “Impressionism - The birth of Light in Painting” published by Taschen, 2019

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