Art as I See It by Lawrence Salander

Art as I See It by Lawrence Salander

Author:Lawrence Salander
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Austin Macauley Publishers LLC
Published: 2019-03-28T16:00:00+00:00

Vincent Van Gogh

Of all the artists I love, it is Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings that most confound me. I mean I find it extremely difficult to categorize and/or criticize. Because in using the criteria I do in judging works of art, by which I mean as to its quality, I should not love Van Gogh’s paintings as much as I do. I often wonder if it is really the man I so love and what he stood for and believed, his aspirations.

In point of fact I see Van Gogh as a limited painter, and I have come to believe that at his best he was the greatest folk artist who ever lived or is likely to.

For as much great art as Van Gogh was exposed to and as much as I have searched his late paintings after 1888, I have found little or no evidence of the influence of the artists of whom I have been taught or have concluded myself to be his fathers in art, and/or were so discussed by Van Gogh himself. With the exception perhaps of Hiroshige and Hokusai and Salomon Van Ruisdael, I find not a formal trace (and that more often in his drawings than his paintings from those dates).

Surely his love for Millet was evident in Van Gogh’s early work, at least as far as the subject matter of Millet’s work. Because Van Gogh was so full of love it was easy for him to be sentimental and much of his early work is limited by that emotion, which is so evident in it. Occasionally we see his sentimental side in his later work as well, but it is the exception rather than the rule and in the cases where it shows up the sentiment is defeated by the quality of the art. That he allowed for it at all is an indication of the difference in terms of Van Gogh’s aspirations compared to those of almost any other significant artist that ever lived, with the possible exception of Fra Angelico. But in Fra Angelico the sentiment never overwhelms any of his work because it never was entirely what he was about. It fascinates and perplexes me that Van Gogh who really should have known better, put artists like L’Hermite and Jules Breton in the pantheon of those artists he most admired.

In Van Gogh’s paintings made in Provence in and after 1888, there was little formal reference to any great art of the past other than the design of several paintings that came from Hiroshige and Hokusai and in his low-wasted work that came out of Van Ruisdael. Don’t look for Rembrandt or Poussin in Van Gogh’s late paintings; even if they are there you will not find them. It is as if Van Gogh sublimated, to the point of extinction, any possible reliance that he had to have gained in his exposure to the great artists of the past. If nowhere else than in his employment in his uncle’s art gallery, and his time in London and Paris.


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