Friday, June 20, 2014

Post-Impressionism (pt. 18)

Vincent left Saint-Rémy and was perceived to be improving.  He was, nonetheless, kept under surveillance by Dr. Gachet as well as his brother, Theo, whom the artist moved to live nearer to.  Out of the institution, Van Gogh painted outdoor scenes in his final days.  These scenes feature dark, foreboding skies and autumn imagery of wheat fields growing ripe for the approaching harvest.  Once again, these images are painted wildly with thick paints and violent dabs or brushstrokes.  The artist almost attacked the canvas with paint and sculpted his colors into their place with his bare hands.  His raging passions are clearly seen in the most expressive manner.  Yet these paintings almost harbor a transcendence of their own, like the earlier landscapes with the cypress trees.  There is something eerie but tranquil about these works.
In late July, 1890, Van Gogh walked out alone into a wheat field very much like the one painted here (in fact, it has been traditionally held that the artist went out to the very same field) with his easel and paints, assumedly to construct another work of art en plein air.  Instead, the artist shot himself with a pistol and returned, after spending who knows how long out alone in the field, to his lodging, where he was attended by physicians who arrived as quickly as they could onto the scene.  Several hours later, he died and was buried the following day, July 30th.  This painting is held to be the last of the artist's works.

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