Travel: Van Gogh’s Footsteps in Arles, France

19.4.17

When traveling south, from Germany to Spain I knew I wanted to stop in Arles, France. I wanted to see some of the town and countryside that inspired Van Gogh in his time in the french riviera. Supposedly he created over 300 works in his 15 months living in Arles. He was such a productive man. I thought 5 paintings during my month long residency in Berlin was good.





He was also such a troubled soul. His work and life has always fascinated me. He spent time in a psychiatric hospital in Arles, and made some of his most famous works here. Van Gogh at that time was not permitted to leave the hospital. So he had his mother and brother send him some of his own sketches from previous years. Some of his most expressive and famous works are based on sketches he made previously. They were then painted from memory. Starry Night for example is one of these. He was painting from a sketch but mostly trying to evoke the place in his memory and with more meaning.

His style was very influential in the beginnings of abstraction. He augmented reality and was much more expressive than artists had been before him. His expressive desires influenced art conceptually, not to mention his technique influenced art visually. His strokes were so dominant that one is forced to think of the artist at work when looking at the painting. Which is a big shift from the realism, which preceded him. Realists before him were trying to hide the artist’s hand and make paintings so real that you couldn't’ see the artist in the piece. Once impressionists began to use such evident brush strokes, the viewer imagined the artist at work much more. Which gives the piece that much more depth. Not only formally but conceptually.

It was such fun to imagine Van Gogh sketching and painting these same places just 140ish years ago. How amazing that he walked these same streets. That he was challenged mentally in these buildings. He is the classic "tortured artist". But he made so much work. He was not plagued as an artist but as a person. He made such beautiful work and developed his style in such a short life. What courage it must have taken to sketch in public and let alone live life as an artist even though he only sold one work in his lifetime. I have sold more art in my lifetime than Van Gogh. How can that be?

I'm moved by learning about and seeing the spaces that preceding artists have occupied.

What other art stops should we make when in Spain? Any tips?

Thanks for reading lovelies,

Anna

1 comment

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