Posted by: Jack Henry | January 15, 2019

Editor’s Corner: Richard Lederer on Vincent

Good morning, all.

It has been a dark and gloomy week in San Diego, reminding me of my youth in Seattle. It’s very busy at work, so I am going to share excerpts from Richard Lederer’s column rather than write my own today. It’s about Vincent van Gogh, and he had a rough life. My goal is to bring a little bit of sunshine (or sunflowers) to your day, so I’m going to share some excerpts with you. If you’d like to read the entire article, you can find it here: Verbivore

…for more than a century those who lived after him have learned to see the world through the eyes of Vincent van Gogh, who, living alone and unattended, speaks to us across time and powerfully influences the course of modern art.

The last lines of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “Kubla Khan” paints a portrait that could be Vincent van Gogh:

And all should cry, Beware! Beware!

His flashing eyes, his floating hair!

Weave a circle round him thrice,

And close your eyes with holy dread,

For he on honey-dew hath fed,

And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Born on March 30, 1853. van Gogh, between 1872 and 1890, wrote hundreds of letters to his younger brother, Theo, his only constant ally and support during a lifetime of struggle. This exchange between two affectionate brothers reveals Vincent as a keen intellectual fully connected to 19th-century thought.

“Mysteries remain, and sorrow or melancholy, but that eternal negative is balanced by the positive work which is thus achieved after all. If life were as simple, and things as little complicated by a goody-goody’s story or the hackneyed sermon of the average clergyman, it wouldn’t be so very difficult to make one’s way. But it isn’t, and things are infinitely more complicated, and right and wrong do not exist separately, any more than black and white do in nature.”

Van Gogh was an avid reader, and the authentic literary style of his letters reflects his love of books. In his letters the artist exhibits a remarkable ability to paint with words and to marshal words to talk about his painting:

· I dream of painting and then I paint my dream.

· Paintings have a life of their own that derives from the painter’s soul.

· Painting is a faith and it imposes the duty to disregard public opinion.

· I am always doing what I can’t do yet in order to learn how to do it.

· A good picture is equivalent to a good deed.

· There is nothing more truly artistic than to love others.

· Art is life seeking itself. It is our intractable expression of love for the beauties, ideas and epiphanies we regularly find.

· When I have a terrible need for religion, I go out and paint the stars.

And of course, I can’t do these paintings justice because you can’t see the individual brush strokes or the texture, but here are some of the paintings from the article, and one I saw in Amsterdam at the Van Gogh Museum (Almond Blossom).

Starry Night


Almond Blossom

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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