Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Van Gogh: Green Wheat Fields, Auvers


Here’s a belated birthday recognition for Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh, born on March 30, 1853 (he died in 1890, just 37 years old).

On a recent visit to the National Gallery in Washington, DC, we had the opportunity to see a new acquistion, a lovely painting by Van Gogh, Green Wheat Fields, Auvers, painted in 1890:


Green Wheat Fields, Auvers
Vincent Van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Image © 2014 Quodlibet. All rights reserved.


Green Wheat Fields, Auvers
Vincent Van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Image © 2014 Quodlibet. All rights reserved.


Green Wheat Fields, Auvers (detail)
Vincent Van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Image © 2014 Quodlibet. All rights reserved.


















:
Here is what it looks like from an oblique angle, from where one can see the thick daubs of paint:

Green Wheat Fields, Auvers
Vincent Van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Image © 2014 Quodlibet. All rights reserved.

And here is a detail of the view shown above:

Green Wheat Fields, Auvers (detail)
Vincent Van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Image © 2014 Quodlibet. All rights reserved.


Here is information about the painting, from the NGA’s news release announcing the acquisition:
Vincent van Gogh's powerful and intense Green Wheat Fields, Auvers (1890), likely painted just weeks before the artist ended his life… represents his wildly prolific late Auvers period. … Measuring 28 3/4 x 36 5/8 inches (73 x 93 cm) Green Wheat Fields, Auvers was likely painted in Auvers-sur-Oise, France, during the spring/early summer of 1890, following Van Gogh's voluntary confinement at the asylum of Saint-Rémy. In this village just north of Paris, and as he did before in the countryside surrounding Arles and Saint-Rémy, Van Gogh painted what could be called pure landscapes, in addition to the Auvers Romanesque church, town hall, and picturesque thatched-roof houses.
In this painting, Van Gogh eliminates the rural figures, stony walls, wooden carts, dramatic trees, and rustic buildings that populate so many of his landscapes and focuses instead on the windblown clouds and tall grasses. Two-thirds of the composition consists of the field in a rich range of greens and blues, punctuated by outbursts of yellow flowers. The artist wrote of his return to northern France as a kind of homecoming, a peaceful restoration in which the vibrant, hot colors of the south were replaced by cool, gentle hues in green and blue. Van Gogh's energetic strokes describe the movement of grassy stalks in the breeze, their patterned undulations creating a woven integral form anchored at the right by a juncture point between field, road, and sky.

Green Wheat Fields, Auvers was one of Van Gogh's last paintings. Though he reveled in the light and color of the Auvers region, describing being “absorbed in a sea of windy grass” (New York Times, December 19, 2013), his spirits were low, and sinking. During this period he wrote to his brother Theo, “How much sadness there is in life. The right thing is to work.” Just a few days later, he killed himself, sure that he could create nothing of worth.






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