051409 Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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May 14th, 2009 marked my first time visiting the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.  There are not too many artists that can really hold my attention for hours on end, but this Van Gogh fellah is a different story altogether.

And what a story!

If you get the chance to read Lust For Life, do it.  Or at least see the movie.  This is the definitive Van Gogh biography and it lays out the life of one of the world’s most dedicated artists in an extremely readable fashion.  The man gave up everything for his art; painting when he should have been sleeping, hiring models when he should have been buying food, living amongst the poor and destitute when he could have been dining with Europe’s elite.

And all this with virtually no validation, he sold only one piece of art in his entire life despite the fact that his brother and biggest champion Theo was one of the most prominent art dealers in Europe.  

This dedication to his craft in itself is enough to inspire great admiration for Van Gogh, but then there is his work!  With his swirling splotches of brilliance, each piece a fresh perspective on Van Gogh’s child-like insight and barely repressed insanity.  His seemingly vague swaths of post-Impressionism bring the viewer into the field with the artist.  You can almost see his sunflowers push towards the sun, you can almost smell the potatoes being served, you can almost feel his madness in the tumultuous sky.

Masterpiece, masterpiece, masterpiece.  Frame after frame, floor after floor.  And most moving of all is the one, single photo in the entire building: of Vincent and Theo’s gravestones lying side by side, an eternity of brotherly love and respect in stark black & white.

Van Gogh makes me hope for an afterlife.  I’d like to believe that Vincent is able to look down at the world today and know that his work is considered to be the greatest art in the history of humanity.  Come to think of it, I wonder if he would care?

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