Sep 9th 2013 Rode Trip
Speaking of art, did you hear? The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has announced they’ve identified a previously unknown painting by the cranky and now-famous painter Vincent Van Gogh. It is a sizeable canvas painted in the south of France, at what would have been the brief peak of his short career. I read an exhaustive biography of Van Gogh a few years ago, and it struck me that, aside from being slightly mad, one of the things that held Van Gogh back for so long was that he just wasn’t a very good artist when he started out. He did not give up, though, and by the time of his death, at the height of his relative fame, he was pretty good. Art world events broke in his favor, too. Although he could never get along with any individual long enough to “belong” to any group, he painted with and around the French impressionists at a time when painting was making an important break from the representational. Not being able to draw was no longer the hurdle it had been! Although he never saw much success—I think he sold two paintings in his life—it wasn’t long after his untimely demise in 1890 that his art began to sell rather briskly. In fact, I think he made a decidedly personal contribution to the questionable but cherished consensus that artists don’t get famous until they’re dead. Anyway, end of art lesson.