Saturday, January 23, 2010

Van Gogh Museum

We made it to Amsterdam and to the Van Gogh Museum.

Actually I went to the art museum alone while Kirk and Connor napped and parked the car. When in Amsterdam we park and tram in from the Olympic Stadium Park and Ride to avoid the madness of driving into a city where bicycles have the right of way and outnumber the cars 43 to 1. At 6 euros a day including free day passes on public transport, it has to be one of the best deals in the Netherlands.

Who doesn't love Van Gogh? You just can't help but to fall for the vivid colors and the emotion of this Dutch master's work. It is almost like Vincent is right there whispering to you through his brushstrokes and texture. It takes restraint not to reach out and touch the paintings - making it a tangible experience.
It was a treat to wander the galleries by myself. I certainly appreciate taking Connor to see art, but there is a wonderful abandon and euphoria in taking some time off to be alone. As always I set out to find my favorites but had a difficult time narrowing my selections down; I had many favorites! The painting above of couples courting in the park was fascinating with the brushwork. The canvas was hairy with color!This work is not one of his most well-known, yet Landscape with Rabbits was gentle and intimate in my assessment.The green and crabby colors in Crab on its Back were beautiful together.These two wheatfield pieces were done near the end of Van Gogh's life. You can almost feel the madness behind the artist's technique. Hard not to wonder what we are missing out on with Van Gogh's life cut so short. He was only 37 when he ended his life.In addition to seeing several familiar favorites I learned about Van Gogh's early works where the themes were consistently peasants and paupers. He exaggerated the hands and feet to symbolize their hard work. The Potato Eaters, below, is one of Van Gogh's largest works. I am not used to the dark mood and stark use of color from him.This Sunflowers piece is one Vincent Van Gogh painted to welcome Gaugin to his home in Arles where the two worked together and collaborated. Van Gogh hung them in Gaugin's bedroom to welcome him.Almond Blossom may have been my favorite with the glowing Tiffany-blue background. Van Gogh painted it for his nephew, also named Vincent, upon hearing the news of his birth. It was a happy, touching story when so many of Van Gogh's backstories seem dark and tortured.I was bummed that A Starry Night was not here. It is on display at the Guggenheim in New York City. Also of note - I was baffled by Van Gogh's many self portraits in the Amsterdam museum. I doubt it comes across in these internet images, but sometimes the artist had green eyes and sometimes brown in his paintings. Wouldn't eye color be an enduring trait? Strange.For an artist who could scarcely sell his work during his lifetime, Van Gogh is certainly a beloved, celebrated genius now.

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