Today... well, yesterday, I'm typing this in the wee a.m., felt a bit surreal for a number of reasons. You can read about some of them briefly over at Beach Treasure if you'd like. But, for no other reason than that, I thought I'd share some paintings we saw at the Musee D'Orsay.
In many ways, I didn't have a typical childhood. My mother discussed gnomes and fairies as a matter of course, my grandmother liked to hunt and camp, growing her own food and learning five different languages. My dad was a sports fanatic (pick a sport, any sport) and yet got weepy watching Broadway plays. And somewhere in that mix, in part from a Bohemian, artist aunt who I idolized (and who later broke my heart when I learned she was only human, and a pretty broken human at that) my childhood was filled with books of famous paintings and painters. Van Gogh was a favorite of mine even then. Maybe that should have been a clue that I would grow up to be sort of a quirky personality.
Starry Night is my favorite Van Gogh. I've never seen it in person. I hope to do so someday. I don't know a lot about his life, just a tad more than most people really, but enough to know it wasn't an easy life and certainly his passion for his art wasn't much of an asset to him in his lifetime. It didn't earn him a living, he only sold one painting in his lifetime. I'm always aware of the irony of that as I stand in a museum knowing the value placed on each of his paintings now could generously support an entire family. Still, he must have had some happiness as this particular painting has a sort of calm cheerfulness about it, the feeling one gets when one has weathered a storm and it feels like more than enough to just be in a safe and quiet place.
It sort of defeats the purpose of seeing art in person when one takes a photo to remember it by, at least in part. Because a photo can never do justice to the experience of seeing it in person and to show that photo to a person who hasn't seen it in person, the photo doesn't even have comparison value. The photos I took in the museums I've visited (where photos are allowed) help me to remember not the painting, there are obviously much better prints of the work available, but the experience of being up close and personal. There's so much you can't see in a photo - the brush strokes, the true colors, the size (or lack thereof) of a painting.
I hadn't known about this painting until I saw it on our visit this spring. It's one of my new favorites, elbowing the painting of his bedroom out of it's spot just below Starry Night.
I have many other favorite painters but if I was allowed to have one original work of art in my home (which, horrors! the stress! I wouldn't want to really own, it's just a fantasy!), Vincent's work would definitely be in the running for the selection.