Tag Archives: Vincent Van Gogh

Did I go to the Vincent Van Gogh museum to see art? No, I met Van Gogh.

It was a crisp August afternoon in Amsterdam. Summer hadn’t completely left Holland, but the brisk air justified a light jacket and a cup of hot chocolate. Like many of the tourists waiting outside the Van Gogh museum, I thought I knew the Dutch artist. I’ve seen Starry Night a multitude of times at the MoMA in New York, his self portraits at the Chicago Art Institute, and have studied his artwork in classes. This wasn’t an introduction, it was a reunion.

Little did I know, I had only scratched the surface of one of the most famous artists to have ever lived. The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam takes the visitor through the painter’s heart, mind, and soul and does so in such a compelling way. When you enter the building, you are introduced to Vincent in the best way possible- through his self portraits. It is here where I learned that much of what was going on in his mind was never truly reflected on the canvas. Behind each painting, the viewer gains a more comprehensive glimpse into the life of this incredibly complex man.

On the first floor, we see Vincent’s first stabs at creating art. These are not the Van Goghs we’re used to. Idyllic landscapes and vibrant colors are replaced by bleak, somber tones depicting impoverished life in the most honest way possible. The Potato Eaters stands out from the crowd. The audience becomes a fly on the wall of a destitute family in the Dutch countryside. In the next few rooms, we are allowed to witness Van Gogh’s evolution, which was inspired by Impressionists like Monet and Renoir. His view of the world dramatically shifted. His new mission was to capture nature’s beauty and vibrancy through elegant strokes of the paintbrush. His mantra: a study in color.

As you ascend the galleries, you begin to know the real Van Gogh. Despite the stunning artwork that adorns the wall, his emotional and psychological baggage clings on to you. When you learn about his eventual suicide, you can’t help but cry. Someone so brilliant and passionate was suddenly ripped out of my life.

I entered the museum that chilly August day hoping to see Van Gogh. Instead, I met Vincent.

Vincent Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam – A Moving Tribute to my Favorite Artist

The Potato Eaters
Source: worldartresources.com

Vincent Van Gogh is my most favorite painter.  No ifs or buts.  While I am absolutely in awe of so many different artists, Van Gogh occupies a very special place in my mind and heart.  My first exposure to him was with the “Sunflowers” series of paintings.  Was it my favorite color yellow that drew me in?  Was it the random positioning of the flowers? Was it the distinctive brushstrokes?  Hard to tell, except from that point on looking up his sketches and paintings and reading his letters to his brother Theo became a journey.

And then came my maiden trip to Amsterdam.  I could barely curtail my excitement as I landed up at the Van Gogh Museum.  My husband knew about my obsession.  My father in law probably thought I was a bit crazy to tear up at the sight of a museum.  But, it was a truly special moment for me and what came next was simply awesome.

Do you ever get the feeling from reading about someone or someplace that when you walk in there, everything feels like Deja Vu?  Well, even though I had never set foot in the museum, I felt like I had already been there….many times.

It is very difficult for me to say what the “ultimate” memory was.  To me, it was a gift to be able to see his paintings and drawings up close, to see the brush strokes, to see the vividness of the colors, to experience his madness and his spirit.  There are a few paintings that struck an emotional chord more than others.

– The drawing “The Head of a Woman” which was a prelude to his Potato Eaters along with the actual painting were incredibly moving simply because they were his earliest works at authenticity and very much unappreciated.

– His “Self Potrait of An Artist” when seen up close reflects such intensity and pain in his eyes, that it feels like he is right there a century later.

– An absolutely joyous “Sunflowers” which made me feel like the flowers were on a dancing journey in the vase.

– I’m not sure what the “Skull of a Skeleton with a Burning Cigarette” was meant to convey, but to me it seems like Van Gogh was trying to convey irony, art and some self wit in this work.

– And last but not least, “Wheatfield with Crows”, mentioned to be his last painting.  This was the final painting on my journey and it did its job in flashing the life of an unfulfilled genius through my mind bringing me to tears.

Whether or not you are a Van Gogh fan, if you are ever in Amsterdam, do spend some time at this lovely museum.    It is a beautiful building and an amazing lesson on life and art.  I have been back on every visit and each one opens up one more little known aspect of my most favorite artist on planet earth.

To learn more about the Vincent Van Gogh Museum, click here:

http://www.vangoghmuseum.nl/vgm/index.jsp?lang=en

Panorama Mesdag – An Absolute Visual Treat

Panorama Mesdag
Source: Rogier @ vanijperen.net

By Lakshmi:

Who?  Anyone who is in The Hague or has the time to make a day trip to The Hague must view this amazing work of art.

What? Panorama Mesdag, a 360 degree, cylindrical landscape painting depicting the seaside in Scheveningen, was painted by the Dutch Artist H.W. Mesdag.

How? You can see this work at

BV Panorama Mesdag
Zeestraat 65
2518 AA  Den Haag
phone: 070 3644 544

Admission is 7 Euros for adults, and half price for kids.  It is free with the “Museunkaart”.

Why?  Prior to my visit, I had read about the painting in a letter written by my favorite artiste Vincent Van Gogh.  He had said, “…… it is a work that deserves all respect. It reminded me of a remark, ….. le seul défaut de ce tableau est de ne pas avoir de défaut. [This picture’s only fault is that it has no fault.].

That was enough for me to make a day trip to The Hague to see this painting.  I was expecting to see  a beautiful landscape which would be similar to the many I had seen in Amsterdam.  Instead, when I walked into the museum where the painting is housed, we had to go up a tiny flight of stairs and when you alighted, what stood in front of you was 360 degrees of a beach landscape.  It was almost like I had walked into a beach scene from a century ago.  The painting, the objects, the lighting… every aspect of this painting was so real that I was just left speechless.  How on earth does an artist accomplish something as complex as this?  I have seen many a magnificent piece of art, but nothing that duplicates the drama and unexpected impact of the Panorama.

If your travels take you to the Netherlands, please do give this a look.  If you have no plans to travel, here’s a way to travel there virtually and experience the painting first hand.

http://panorama-mesdag.com/the-41-icons-of-panorama-mesdag/info?id=2398#