Research: Art History

Vincent van Gogh (b. 1853) Cypresses, 1889

Another thrilling article for our Art History buffs written by Sebastian Smee for the Washington Post. Since we cannot open the article without a VPN in China, I have included excerpts here.

Vincent van Gogh (b. 1853) Cypresses, 1889

In the summer of 1889, Vincent van Gogh painted “Cypresses,” which may just be his masterpiece. He had painted “The Starry Night,” a relatively flat and cartoonish work, only a week or two earlier. In one of his marvelous, chatty, tender and hectoring letters, he promised his brother Theo that he was taking precautions to avoid a relapse of the breakdown that had led to him, six months earlier, to sever his ear and present it to a local prostitute.

The whole canvas — the sky, the clouds, the atmosphere itself — seems to vibrate in response to the cypresses’ life force, evoking all the ways in which the natural world is interconnected. “Starry Night,” for all its charm, is like a diagram of this notion, or an illustration. It feels akin to an explanation, whereas “Cypresses” is an exclamation, a blurt, a barbaric yawp. It doesn’t just illustrate, it enacts Van Gogh’s special apprehension of nature’s reverberating oneness.

For the full article, click on this link: