A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
I dream of painting and then I paint my dream – Vincent Van Gogh
Though I don’t paint much myself Painting is an art which has fascinated me immensely. I love to spend hours staring at paintings which mean something to me. Incidentally my favorite painter happens to be a certain Vincent Van Gogh, and I had to visit the museum which was dedicated to him and which was in such close proximity!
My fascination with Van Gogh started after, as a kid, I watched the movie called as ‘Lust for Life’ where the role of Vincent Van Gogh was immortalized by the legendary actor Kirk Douglas. It was fascinating and saddening to know such a great artist managed to sell only one painting during his lifetime, as opposed to the lifelong adulation which artists such as Pablo Picasso received. I was also impressed by how he expressed himself through his paintings. His canvases were an expression of how he viewed each scene, interpreted through his eyes, mind, and heart. His densely laden visible brushstrokes also set him apart.
Some of my favorite paintings by the artist which I saw at the museum are depicted below,
Self-Portrait with Dark Felt Hat, 1886- Van Gogh had created a lot of self portraits during his lifetime and among them this particular work is my favourite. The self portraits which are painted by Van Gogh depicts the face as it appeared in the mirror. His right side in the image is in reality the left side of his face.
The Potato Eaters, 1885– The importance of this particular painting is highlighted since it was his first attempt to produce a masterpiece. This painting also has a very dark setting which probably has been influenced by one of his favourite painters Rembrant.
Van Gogh explained his views on the painting in a letter to Theo. ‘I wanted to convey the idea that the people eating potatoes by the light of an oil lamp used the same hands with which they take food from the plate to work the land, that they have toiled with their hands – that they have earned their food by honest means. One sees a kind of wild animal, male and female, all over the countryside, black, drab and scorched by the sun, bound to the soil which they dig and work with obstinate resolve; they speak with a single voice, and when they rise to their feet they reveal human faces, and they are indeed human. At night they retreat into caves where they live on black bread, water and roots; they spare others the effort of sowing, tilling and harvesting in order to live, and should therefore not want of the bread they have sown’.
The Wheatfield with Crows, 1890- Among his last paintings this is turbulent and certainly conveys a sense of loneliness in the fields – a powerful image of Van Gogh as defeated and solitary artist in his final years. The crows: Perhaps the most powerful image within Wheat Field with Crows is that of the crows themselves. Again, much symbolic interpretation has sprung from the depiction of the flock of crows. Much of the speculation hinges on whether the crows are flying toward the painter (and, hence, the viewer) or away from him. If the viewer chooses to perceive the crows flying toward the foreground, then the work becomes more foreboding. If away, then a sense of relief is felt.
Definitely one of the must visit places in Holland, Van Gogh Museum!