Thursday, November 11, 2010

Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne and Beyond

Bob and I seem to gravitate to San Francisco for my birthday. This year was no exception. We went to the DeYoung Museum to see the Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cezanne & Beyond exhibit. My Mother and Grandma Hart both cultivated an interest in the arts in me. They taught me that art is meant to evoke an emotional response in the viewer. Not everyone likes every style of art, but that doesn't mean that the art is bad. We all have different tastes.

We had tickets for 12 noon. (The Deyoung sells tickets at 15 minute intervals to help keep the flow of people moving through the exhibit) We were lucky enough to get to park in the parking garage, use the restroom and have 3 minutes to spare.

I was excited about seeing the exhibit. I never expected the visceral reaction when I walked in. The first paintings I saw were some winter landscapes by Claude Monet and I started to cry. Monet was one of my Mother's favorite painters and just being there looking at the actual paintings, seeing his brush strokes and the actual colors was just so overwhelming. It is one this to see a photograph of a painting, but even photography fails to catch the true colors and emotions of most works.

When I was young, I was not a big fan of Van Gogh. I think subconsciously I was picking up on his anguish and mental illness from his heavy brushstrokes and treatment of subjects. As I have gotten older, I have come to understand his madness and suffering. Several of his painting at the exhibit really stood out to me.

The first is Starry Night.

The colors are so vibrant and the stars seem to leap out of the painting.

The second painting was this self portrait from 1887

The eyes in this painting are haunting. He captured the anguish of tortured soul in paint for future generations. I felt a catch in my chest as I viewed the painting and felt a connection across the years. In a letter to his sister he wrote "I am looking for a deeper likeness than that obtained by a photographer." He succeeded in this painting.

The exhibit is definately worth seeing. I will probably never get the chance to go to Paris, so when Paris comes to me I jumped at the opportunity!

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