Van Gogh's portrait sculpture outside the Maison de Sante Saint-Paul Mental Hospital in St. Remy-de Provence-France
I am still haunted by the memories of visiting the St. Remy mental hospital where Van Gogh stayed for a year (1889-1890). He has always been an artist that I was interested in. I wondered about his heavy worm-like brushstrokes. What did he see? What did he think? The more I read and researched his life, the more questions would appear.
Fortunately for us, his sister-in-law kept all the letters that Vincent wrote to his brother Theo. She also kept the paintings, hundreds of them that Vincent shipped to Paris, thinking that his brother the art dealer was actually selling some of them. We all know he only sold one in his lifetime. Thanks to Jo we have some insight into what and why Vincent painted what he did.
At St. Remy, Vincent painted 142 paintings, some books say 150, and over 100 drawings. Probably the most important period in his work. He had admitted himself to the hospital for rest, after a disastrous stay in Arles (I won't go into that). When he was "improved" he was allowed out to paint around in the area. This is where he painted the famous "Starry Night" and quite a few others that you would know. Think of all the money that Theo sent to cover canvas and paint!
A bedroom typical of what Vincent would have had with a reproduction of one of his paintings he did while there.
Vincent for the most part, lived a very unhappy life, unable to have meaningful relationships with friends or family. He had bouts of manic depression, maybe epilepsy, and maybe glaucoma. But his inspiration to us is his passion and devotion to his art.
So some of the questions: Are we in love with his art or with his story? If he were alive today, would his art be valued? Would he be your friend or someone you would help? Do you have to be crazy to be an artist?
What do you think?
Off to the studio...