unfortunately many are led to van gogh’s art by his extraordinarily eventful life, writes raymond cogniat in his biography, even though the art persists in itself, deserves highest admiration and should not be seen as the illustration of a gripping fate. ok, cogniat’s book is from 1958 which brings up a question: is it still the same today? do people still get in contact first with the painter’s life events and only later with the sunflowers? not too sure about that. in my case at least, it was the exact opposite. my first contact with the sunflowers was in kindergarden i guess. the more i’m bombed with something within a certain timespan (especially mass / pop / hype stuff) the less interested i get. that’s the main reason why vincent willem van gogh entered my personal stage not before autumn 2016.
what i already knew before (besides goddamn sunflowers) was: dutch painter with a love for self-portraits and starry nights, absinthe drinker who cut off his ear (correlation myth), overall associated with impressionism. i heard his name in school, tv and lectures; spotted his face on postcards, cheap absinthe bottles and dutch chocolate boxes; saw his paintings in museums, books and documentaries – and simply got oversaturated pretty soon; too annoyed too early to generate a serious interest. every other painter was more attractive right from the start.
a few years ago i attended an exhibition on montmartre fin de siècle art and found myself standing amazed in front of (non-cliché) “la colline de montmartre avec une carrière de pierres” (wikimedia image). it usually can be found at amsterdam van gogh museum so i probably walked past it already without taking notice. i mean, it requires a certain amount of maturity maybe to find attraction in moody landscape paintings. nothing to please teenagers for sure. in a fairy moment in val de travers, holding a glass of absinthe, i decided to finally explore whether there really was a relation between my favourite distilled beverage and the dubious decision for self-mutilation by mr. sunflower. van gogh was successfully dismissed and offtopic long enough which perfectly allowed it to ask google.
as a result i’m now reading biographies and the correspondance between vincent and theo van gogh; looking at the (non-forest) pictures i took during my french-belgian holidays, watching documentaries by (sensational) waldemar januszczak (youtube) and starting my precious little private hype now. time is right for this!