Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"Starry, Starry Night" - Vincent Van Gogh (Previous Post)


"Now I understand what you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free
The would not listen they did not know how
Perhaps they'll listen now."



~~~Please watch this video before reading this. It is Perfect!~

Many have recorded this song “Starry, Starry Night” written about Vincent Van Gogh. This video by Julio Iglesias almost tells the story without words.

When I first came up with the thought about writing about Van Gogh I thought it would be rather simple. But as I started writing I realized the information about this great master is limitless. I intended on posting this much sooner then now, but I had to stop and reorganize my thoughts because I had to make a hard decision on what to include and what to omit. I could write a novel, or just try my best to share what information I thought was necessary to fit with the subject of my blog. What ever the outcome, it will not do his life story justice. {Keep in mind who is writing this…a sufferer of bipolar myself and not a biographer!}

From the time of his birth on March 30, 1853 and his death on July 29th of 1890, he painted almost 900 paintings! Since his death, he has become one of the most famous painters in the world. It is said that in this time period, although he was commissioned to paint several paintings, he only sold one. Yet around 1970 a Japanese businessman purchased the “Portrait of Dr. Gachet” for $82.5 million! Saito was so attached to the painting that he wanted it to be cremated with him when he died in 1996...but the painting was saved.

Despite his great success, Vincent Van Gogh was also known as a lonely, tortured artist who many felt was insane or at least on the edge of madness. The debate of his mental condition has raged, and to this day still unsettled as to his mental condition, and whether it was schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, paranoia, or a combination all of this and even more! It all depends on what you read and who wrote it.

In 1888, Van Gogh experienced a psychotic episode in which he threatened the life of Guaguin a personal friend and fellow artist. This episode also brought about the notorious incident in which he cut off a piece of his own left ear, offering it as a gift to a prostitute. Then, {Listen my friends!} he admitted himself to a mental asylum for more than a year.

Starry Night was painted while Vincent was in the asylum at Saint-Rémy and his behavior was very erratic at the time, due to the severity of his attacks. Unlike most of Van Gogh's works, Starry Night was painted from memory and not outdoors as was Vincent's preference. I am a great fan many of his paintings and sketches but “Starry Night” I am very sorry to say, is not my favorite. It is different, drastically different than most of his work. Was this because it was the work of a tortured mind? As always after an artist or author has died, many years' later people will try to “read into” what they were thinking. This my friends is what gets so upset I want to scream! Unless the artist has opened his mind as to the finished work, what makes people 100 years later interpret what he was going through!!! This is what makes Starry Night his most famous work.

After leaving the hospital because he was not getting any better, Van Gogh suffered a severe setback in December 1889. Although he had been troubled by mental illness throughout his life, the episodes became much worse during his last few years. In some of these periods he was either unwilling or unable to paint. His depression gradually deepened. On 27 July 1890, aged 37, he walked into a field and shot himself in the chest with a revolver. He survived the impact and managed to walk back to the Ravoux Inn. He died there two days later. His brother, by his side, witnessed his last words as "La ordedtristesse durera toujours" (the sadness will last forever).

What a shame that in his lifetime the information and treatment we have today could have helped this great artist live past age of 37! In the late 1800's although one was considered insane, mad, crazy and so on, they did not have the knowledge available to them to define the illness. What if, he was in our day, where he could check himself into a clinic where they actually and correctly diagnose his condition, and give him all the resources we have today?

I will print some quotes of letters he wrote, and written about him. Let’s let Van Gogh speak for himself!

Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
Saint-Rémy, 22 May 1889

“But while I stay here, the doctor is of course in a better position to see what is wrong, and will have his mind set at rest, I hope, about what he can let me paint.

But joking apart, my fear of madness is wearing off markedly, since I can see at close quarters those who are affected by it in the same way as I may very easily be in the future.

Again - speaking of my condition - I am so grateful for yet another thing. I've noticed that others, too, hear sounds and strange voices during their attacks, as I did, and that things seemed to change before their very eyes. And that lessened the horror with which I remembered my first attack, something that, when it comes upon you unexpectedly, cannot but frighten you terribly. Once you know it is part of the illness, you accept it like anything else. Had I had not seen other lunatics close to; I should not have been able to stop myself from thinking about it all the time. For the suffering and the anguish are not funny when you are having an attack.”

Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
Amsterdam, 18 August 1877

“Then I breakfasted on a piece of dry bread and a glass of beer - that is what Dickens advises for those who are on the point of committing suicide, as being a good way to keep them, at least for some time, from their purpose. And even if one is not in such a mood, it is right to do it occasionally, while thinking, for instance, of Rembrandt's picture, “The Men of Emmaus.”

Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
The Hague, 19 July 1882

“As for my constitution - Tersteeg is not my physician and he does not understand my constitution in the least - when I want information on the subject, I shall go to my own doctor and ask for it, but I absolutely refuse to discuss it with him any more. But it is certain that there are few things more harmful either to the woman or to myself than visits like that one we just went through. Avoiding these is absolutely one of the first medical orders I shall have to carry out. Never has a doctor told me that there was something abnormal about me in the way and sense Tersteeg dared to tell me this morning. That I was not able to think or that my mind was deranged. No doctor has told me this, neither in the past nor in the present; certainly I have a nervous constitution, but there is definitely no real harm in that. So those were serious insults on Tersteeg's part, just as they were on Pa's, but even worse, when he wanted to send me to Gheel. I cannot take such things lying down. I am looking forward to discussing my indisposition further with you, what caused it, etc."

Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
Saint-Rémy, 22 May 1889

“Again - speaking of my condition - I am so grateful for yet another thing. I've noticed that others, too, hear sounds and strange voices during their attacks, as I did, and that things seemed to change before their very eyes. And that lessened the horror with which I remembered my first attack, something that, when it comes upon you unexpectedly, cannot but frighten you terribly. Once you know it is part of the illness, you accept it like anything else. Had I had not seen other lunatics close to, I should not have been able to stop myself from thinking about it all the time. For the suffering and the anguish are not funny when you are having an attack.”

Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
Amsterdam, 3 March 1878

It must be good to die in the knowledge that one has done some truthful work and to know that, as a result, one will live on in the memory of at least a few and leave a good example for those who come after. A work that is good may not last forever, but the thought expressed by it will, and the work itself will surely survive for a very long time, and those who come later can do no more than follow in the footsteps of such predecessors and copy their example.

Very true...yet very sad.

My Mind

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments are Welcome! The Author may delete or list as spam any comments with vulgar or harmful content.