Saturday, August 11, 2012
Van Gogh Up Close II
Van Gogh was in Paris for almost 2 years from 1886 to 1888 (February). The Impressionists influenced him to lighten his palette. Vincent responded to their colour and paint application techniques by practicing with still life paintings. Japanese wood block prints were very popular at the time and they had an influence on the Impressionists and Post Impressionists. Van Gogh collected them and had more than 400 (But he was supposed to be destitute? Maybe his brother Theo helped out). He studied these prints. After all, Vincent was quite educated and had an interesting intellect.
Bridge in the Rain (after Hiroshige)
Japanese Flowering Plum (after Hiroshige)
From these studies Vincent began to employ a high (tilted) horizon along with foreground detail. This seemed to suit his fascination with simple subject matter and its detail. He often referred to such subject matter as "a dusty blade of grass". Indeed he did paint clumps of grass alone, and tangles of vegetation as detailed foreground matter. These ideas led to flattened picture planes. Many of the Impressionists were also flattening the picture plane. Perhaps the most notable were Cezanne and Gaugin.
Near vs Far
Here the foreground arrests the viewer's eye, then releases it into the background. Notice that the sky, usually the source of light (therefore the lightest mass), is about the same value as the meadow. This keeps the eye in the picture rather than falling out of the scene.
In this painting the surface almost became an abstract tapestry wall just hinting at a horizon. In other images he left the horizon out altogether. Vincent continued to develop his expressive brush stroke while employing near pointalism and broken colour. He was concerned about being unique and worked at it.
Quinces and Pears
In this still life the ground is tilted and activated. The horizon is gone, the diagonal is employed and the brush work is alive. Lots of tension.
His letters indicate that Vincent was continually invited to paint and discuss art with most of the avant-garde artists of the day.
In February of 1888 Vincent move to Arles in the south of France. Apparently he desired a quieter environment to continue his studies and development.