Van Gogh and His Artist's Commune
Vincent Van Gogh - perhaps the world's most famous artist. The difference in Van Gogh's fame during his lifetime compared to that after his death could not be more stark. It is no wonder that the cliche of the starving artist gained so much traction in the twentieth century. Vincent Van Gogh fitted the description perfectly. Despite Vincent's lack of following and business failure he was consumed with the idea of forming an artist's commune in the south of France.
When Van Gogh moved from Paris to Arles in 1888 it must looked like a rash decision. Arles was a provincial town far removed from the art hub in Paris. It was in Arles that Vincent created many of his most famous paintings. It was also where he wanted to create an art hub of his own.
Van Gogh was also fascinated with Japanese art. Japanese artists had a tradition of cooperation. They often exchanged paintings with each other as a mark of respect. Van Gogh admired this practice and tried to follow the idea with fellow artists, but with little success. Vincent was simply not very popular with his contemporaries. It is odd that Van Gogh would persist in trying to win favour with other artists. This points to his insecurity and loneliness. These deep seated conditions existed from childhood.
It was at the so called yellow house in Arles that Vincent hoped other artists would visit and stay with him. Vincent painted the house and made it comfortable in anticipation.
I would be truly satisfied to be nothing more than a pathfinder for future painters who will work in the south
Van Gogh's painting, The Yellow House, shows his residence in Arles. The house is in the centre of the painting with the dark windows and green shutters. It glows in golden yellows against the dark blue sky. Van Gogh was a master of complimentary colour painting. This bright painting was designed to be a glowing beacon to attract fellow painters to join him. Even the train entering the town encourages this idea.
Another famous painting, Vincent's Bedroom at Arles, showed the peaceful and inviting bedroom on the first floor of the yellow house. A sanctuary from the heat outside and also the decadence of Paris. Despite Vincent's attempts there were no takers, until Paul Gauguin agreed. However Gauguin was simply trying to establish himself with Van Gogh's art dealing brother. The relationship was doomed from the start.
The Yellow House by Vincent Van Gogh
Malcolm Dewey: Artist. Country: South Africa