July 29 marks the 119th anniversary of Vincent Van Gogh's death. Here are snippets of the article talking about Van Gogh (1853-1890) that appeared today in the online version of El Diario de Xalapa, with a front page notice. It is by Isabel Serrano, art critic and historian. The translation is mine. I've interspersed some images of Van Gogh's work.
Vincent's life was solitary, and he came to feel sad and abandoned. At every turn, he sensed the rejection of a society which treated him indifferently. Perhaps because of the uncaring attitude it showed, and, among other things, because of its incomprehension of his work, during his life, he sold only one or two of his paintings. He was an uncommunicative man who passed by silently, but this did not keep him from making extroardinary paintings and drawings of landscapes, still-lifes, campesinos, portraits, self portraits, and aspects of everyday life.
From childhood, Vincent revealed an intense temperament and a very difficult personality, which meant that he failed in many of the activities he undertook; however, he succeeded in his work as a missionary among underground miners, whose pain and great weariness he understood. These experiences he brought to some of his most famous paintings.
Today we contemplate his work and we clearly see that in the midst of his internal torment, he had a pressing need to convey strong emotions.... [The resulting] would pass, unbeknownst to him, with great success to posterity.
....Van Gogh was tireless, and he knew how to capture the dusks, the streets, the valleys and the wheatfields of the region where he lived.He painted in a different manner from those who had come before him. His paintings are distingished by a loose, sinuous brushstroke, conveing great emotion; thick black lines which enclose warm colors and an intense ligiht which bathes every scene with splendor.
His interest, almost an obsession, with sunflowers inspired him to create various works in which they occupied the place of protagonist. The sunflower is different from all other flowers, with its center turning towards the sun and with its great size. In his paintings, it apears to us as if the flowers were turning towards Vincent. Vincent knew these characteristics very well. He had devoted hours to studying sunflowers, he observed them thoroughly and drew them over and over again, puttting them in the right position with relation to the sun. Throughout his life, he finished many works with yellow sunflowers which sometimes appeared over neutral backgrounds, others in the midst of exceptionally brilliant tones.
On one occasion, Vincent decided to paint fourteen sunflowers in a round clay container. When he finished, he hung it on the wall and spent the whole night gazing passionately at it. At that moment, he could not imagine that with the passage of two years, it would become one of the most famous works of art in history, a work admired by all of us ho have seen it, a work which came from the very hands of that misunderstood man who dedicated his days and nights to painting without rest.
You of course recognize that the colors online do not do justice to the real thing. Even more, the paintings are more or less flattened, when in fact, Van Gogh's paintstrokes seem still to live. I was lucky enough to grow up in New York City. A Starry Night hung in the Museum of Modern Art. I could just go and stand there and get lost in it.