64 days in heaven and hell (129)
Day 42, December 3 - Sulky sunflowers
What would you do, if you’d be an artist and had the opportunity to work with an admired fellow painter? Wouldn’t you want to exploit the situation? Create new stuff?
Van Gogh tried to do so for a few weeks. He followed Gauguin’s advice and tried to work from memory and imagination, struggled with Gauguin’s burlap instead of using his familiar canvas, but didn’t feel comfortable with it at all.
On top of that, he was unable to get through to Gauguin, a man with a sizeable ego, who felt more and more annoyed by Van Gogh’s constant criticism and fanaticism.
At the end of November, Van Gogh clearly reverted to his own subjects and technique. Painting the naturalistic portraits of a friendly (and poor) family may have brought him some peace of mind.
But simply copying last August’s “Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers” also feels to me like a statement. Van Gogh’s sulky statement that he refused to explore Gauguin’s ideas and advice any further.
Vincent Van Gogh, Vase avec quinze tournesols (Still Life: Vase with fifteen Sunflowers), c. December 1, 1888. Oil on canvas, 100 x 76.5 cm. Seiji Togo Memorial Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Museum of Art, Tokyo (F 457, JH 1666)