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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Gogh, Vincent van


The Siesta (after Millet)
1890
oil on canvas
73 x 91 cm
Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France

"One may have a blazing hearth in one's soul and yet no one ever comes to sit by it. Passersby see only a whisp of smoke rising from the chimney and continue on their way." (Gogh)

The Siesta was painted while Gogh was interned in a mental asylum in Saint-Remy de Provence. The composition is taken from a drawing by Millet for Four Moments in the Day. To justify his act, Gogh told his brother Theo: "I am using another language, that of colors, to translate the impressions of light and dark into black and white". Gogh often copied the works of Millet, who he considered to be "a more modern painter than Manet". Remaining faithful to the original composition, even down to the still life details in the foreground, Gogh nevertheless imposes his own style upon this restful scene which, for Millet, symbolized rural France of the 1860's. This highly personal retranscription is achieved primarily by means of a chromatic construction based on contrasting complementary colors: blue-violet, yellow-orange. Despite the peaceful nature of the subject, the picture radiates Gogh's unique artistic intensity.

Vincent Willem van Gogh (1853 -1890) was a Dutch post-Impressionist painter whose work, notable for its rough beauty, emotional honesty, and bold color, had a far-reaching influence on 20th-century art. He spent his early adulthood working for a firm of art dealers, traveling between The Hague, London and Paris, after which he taught for a time in England. One of his early aspirations was to become a pastor and from 1879 he worked as a missionary in a mining region in Belgium where he began to sketch people from the local community.

In 1885, he painted his first major work The Potato Eaters. His palette at the time consisted mainly of somber earth tones and showed no sign of the vivid coloration that distinguished his later work. In 1886, he moved to Paris and discovered the French Impressionists. Later, he moved to the south of France and was influenced by the strong sunlight he found there. His work grew brighter in color, and he developed the unique and highly recognizable style that became fully realized during his stay in Arles in 1888. After years of painful anxiety and frequent bouts of mental illness, he died at the age of 37 in 1890 from a gunshot wound, generally accepted to be self-inflicted (although no gun was ever found). His work was then known to only a handful of people and appreciated by fewer still.

Gogh did not begin painting until his late twenties. He completed many of his best-known works during his last two years. In just over a decade, he produced more than 2,100 artworks, consisting of 860 oil paintings and more than 1,300 watercolors, drawings, sketches and prints. His work included self portraits, landscapes, still lifes of flowers, portraits and paintings of cypresses, wheat fields and sunflowers. The extent to which his mental health affected his painting has been a subject of speculation since his death. According to an art critic, his late works show an artist at the height of his ability, completely in control and "longing for concision and grace". "I dream of painting and then I paint my dream." (Gogh)
http://www.imaginarymuseum.net/view/flipcard