Artists look to other art by other artists for clues on how to create their work. Art is a huge conversation between artists about navigating the human experience, and this is one way art speaks with breadth and conviction.
Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) got his clues from many contemporaries, and from recent past painters, mostly French. That’s because the Dutch started painting at the age of 27, relatively late in their difficult lives, and he needed to catch up early.
Amazingly attractive exhibitions at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art show a greedy appetite, digging into Van Gogh’s wide range of sources during his ten years of work. It’s amazing, as shows like this that investigate the impact are difficult to succeed. “Through Vincent’s Eyes: Van Gogh and His Sources” summarizes 20 of his paintings and distributes them throughout a gallery filled with 75 examples by 62 other artists.
Some works (mainly paper) did not arrive in Santa Barbara in time for the preview, especially due to pandemic-related shipping issues from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. (They are currently installed, according to a spokesperson.) But there was still a lot to see — the show lasts until May 22nd — and the sources drawn by the artists are often fascinating.
Does the name Adolphe Joseph Thomas Monticelli (1824-1886) ring the bell?
Unless you happen to be a scholar in the field of French painting in the mid-19th century, this is probably not the case. Today, the almost forgotten artist of Marseille is a friend of Paul Cézanne, who sometimes went on landscape painting excursions in southern France.
Van Gogh was fascinated by Monticelli’s work, which he happened to find at an exhibition when he first visited Paris the year the older artist died. In fact, he and his art dealer’s brother, Theo, were so crazy that they worked hard to publish a book about this work after death.
Van Gogh’s interest has long been known, even if it is difficult to grasp. The Santa Barbara show features more Monticelli paintings than any other artist except Vincent. This includes the names of glorious homes such as Eugene Boudin, Jean-Baptiste Simeon Chardin, Edgar Degas and Claude Monet. It is represented by a good example. Most of Monticelli is small, but its number and placement on another wall near the entrance is his crucial importance to Van Gogh’s development, which was in the early stages of takeoff when he met the painter of Marseille. Is emphasized.
Jean-Francois Millet is usually adorned with heroic monuments of peasant peasant sympathetic photographs, such as the striking “The Sower”, which sows seeds from heavy shoulder bags into cultivated soil. We are proud to understand the artistic origin of Van Gogh. Or Eugene Delacroix, who wrestled with color with a brush, just as the angel of Genesis and Jacob wrestled. Or even Jean-Francois Rafaeli, a heartfelt photo of two homeless men drowning in absinthe’s glass, showing why he was considered an urban millet.
But there is a problem here. Monticelli’s paintings are different from them because they are almost uniformly ugly.
Dark, solidified surface; awkward bursts of awkward colors and vibrant light from the darkness. Strange subjects like the romantic scenes of clumsy young women gathered in a park-like environment (aristocratic picnic shades by Jean-Antoine Watteau)-it’s no wonder he’s an ambiguous person today. .. They are very hard to like. It will take some time to start seeing what Vincent saw in them.
But slowly, it appears in these moderately scaled but jammed photos. From Monticelli’s awe for Delacroix’s wonderful brushstrokes to his susceptibility to mortality embedded in the fragility of a simple cup of flower. More than this will add fuel that will increase the intensity of Van Gogh’s fire.
“Through Vincent’s Eyes” is not a masterpiece. The spectacle is not in the docket. Of his 20 photos collected here, only 4 are number one. They are all from the last two years of his life, the peak of Van Gogh.
The “Talas Constage Coach”, painted with a rich impasto due to the influence of Monticelli, and the vibrant red and green shades recognized for the splendor of Monet’s colors, Paul Gauguin will soon leave Van Gogh’s yellow house in Arles. It was drawn in anticipation of visiting.
Also inspired by Monet, the “rose” is a very abundant white vase placed on a dark green table against a light green wall, with a rhythmic cascade of white light pouring diagonally behind it. .. Van Gogh used bright crimson pigments to accent the flowers, but unfortunately they have faded for decades and the pinkish color has lost its punch with free green.
Still, the stirring form of a still life is not a still life, but it can hardly contain ecstatic dynamism. These are flowers that live happily despite the inevitable demise.
The same goes for the virtually fiery cedar and pine trees that rise toward the sky in front of the yellow and blue “Sun Remy Hospital”. This psychiatric facility was staying shortly before the artist died. (Visitors from Los Angeles recognize stunning paintings from the collection at the UCLA Hammer Museum.) The stunning catalog of “Through Vincent’s Eyes” is a rugged tree that appears to dance fiercely in bright light. Shows anthropomorphism of. The blue sky just outside the border of the hospital.
Speaking of dance, “Sheaves of Wheat” gives off all the formal elegance of a rustic Cotillion. This is a stunning panoramic close-up of bundled golden wheat that casts a pale blue shadow. One of a group of so-called “double square” paintings, just twice as wide (40 inches) wide, dating back a few days before Van Gogh’s death. “Wheatfield with Crows” is the most widely known of the double squares.
“Wheatfield with Crows” is not included in the exhibition skillfully organized by SBMA Deputy Director and Chief Curator Ake Khan in collaboration with the Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio. (The late Gregory White Smith, who widely praised the biography of the artist Van Gogh: The Life, which he wrote with his husband Stephen Naife in 2011, grew up in Columbus.) From the buzzing wheat to the sky. One of the last canvases of the famous painting artist Van Gogh plunging towards, the field is mentioned because it has become an almost cinematic emblem of the problem that the current exhibition means to unravel. Worth it.
The popular myth of a melancholic madman, in which a suicidal artist stirs a masterpiece born of a tortured spirit as he exits the door, has made Van Gogh look real. “Through Vincent’s Eyes” is a good pull on the plug of that folklore view.
Simply put, it’s a show about how artists actually work. There’s a lot to discover here, and 16 “less” Van Gogh paintings are as necessary as flat masterpieces, not to mention those very unique Monticelli paintings.
“Through Vincent’s Eyes: Van Gogh and His Source”
where: Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1130 State Street
when: Tuesday to Sunday, May 22nd
Admission fee: Special exhibitions range in price from $ 10 to $ 25. Free for children under 6 years old
information: (805) 963-4364, sbma.net