Last night was a crystal clear starry starry night as we strolled down the quiet urban sidewalk, between the building facades, on our way to what we soon came to realize was an event we would never forget. Once settled in our seats and after way too many previews, the magic began and we were instantly mesmerized by the millions of brushstrokes of over 100 artists recreating the world immediately before and for a year after the death of Vincent Van Gogh.
There, in a cozy theater downtown, we experienced a wondrous film, Loving Vincent. We embarked on a extraordinary journey and were lost in this fanciful world of brilliant color and bold movement as the movie unfolded with an animation unlike we had ever experienced. It was a though we were watching Van Gogh paint this film. The rough deliberate strokes were actually moving as the scenes unfolded – the scenes were alive with the movement of the animation.
This remarkable delivery vehicle to convey a portion of Van Gogh’s world brought colors dancing – even screaming – across the screen in familiar swirls, and deliberate marks that were so identifiably his. What the artists were able to accomplish was astonishing. The focal surface of the theater was busy with the seemingly live brushstrokes of Vincent Van Gogh. Borrowing from his actual paintings, the viewer is transported into the world of his interpretation from street scenes where he experienced the corner with the yellow house to capturing individual’s who appeared throughout the film such as The Zouave in his red hat distinctive of his French military service, to the bearded postman, Joseph Roulin, who was so key in the intimate, mysterious and different story line, the expansive scenery of Provence and the intimate details of daily life.
As a true Van Gogh fan, it was love at first sight – do you remember where you were when first introduced to his magic? Having grown-up in Washington, D.C. I was fortunate to have had family visits and school field trips to the magnificent National Gallery of Art where, upon each visit starting at a very young age, I would scour the gift shop for postcards of my favorite images – taking home with me memories of the beautiful influences that have continued to shape my appreciation for color and composition, balance and light, contrast and context, subject matter and the power of observation. I must credit my mother and grandmother for instilling in me this awareness of things of beauty and their importance in our lives.
Fast-forward a bit…way back when…dare I admit…when first studying art history in college, the bible was HW Janson’s HISTORY OF ART. A daunting tome filled with the overview of all that is art as we knew it at the time. Van Gogh and his impressionist colleagues were sprinkled throughout latter portion of the book.
There his genius was once again presented to me stirring a wild appreciation for his rebellious disregard for conventional painting styles. He possessed and fed his own passionate, if not desperate, need to apply paint to surfaces, capturing life and telling stories from his unique and insightfully perceptive vantage point. The Impressionists have always stirred a passion for the boldly colorful, adventuresome, romantic and sensitively sensual expressions of life for me.
Years later my husband and I were fortunate to attend the National Gallery’s exhibit Masterpieces from the Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam.
It was the fall of 1998 and we were thrilled to be walking toward the oh so familiar edifice with great eagerness for what awaited.
The line wrapped the building, but moved along with efficient, orderly procession as the anticipation grew with each forward step.
Inside we purchased the audio tour tapes and, with headsets on, immersed ourselves for the next few hours in the dazzling world of this remarkable artist.
His unique undaunted expression of the scenes, people and details around him, through his own unschooled techniques, was awe-inspiring.
Tormented and tested he discovered his passion and for a very few years carving out an indelible place that will live, breathe and be enjoyed forever.
The people in their joys and sorrows, fashion of the time, landscapes of bountiful beauty, interiors of keenly observed detail all expressed through his sensitive eye and brought to generations of viewers – a priceless gift to the world.
The take-away…embrace bold expression, fear not color in your world, appreciate the details, and go see this film, Loving Vincent, before it leaves a theater near YOU!!!!