The Pursuit of Spiritual Wisdom: The Thought and Art of Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin

Front Cover
Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, Jan 1, 1998 - Art - 211 pages
0 Reviews
This book explores van Gogh's and Gauguin's conviction that the purpose of visual art in human culture is to communicate a spiritual understanding of existence comparable to the wisdom contained in the metaphors and parables of myths, religions, and literature. Monographic studies in the book, which entail many new interpretations of van Gogh's and Gauguin's imagery, reveal the ways in which their ideas and the specific events of their personal lives shaped their creation of meaningful symbolic motifs.
  

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

The Symbolist Revolt against Modern Life
1
The Symbolist Requirements of Art
14
The Existence of God and Eternity Van Goghs Search for Spiritual Salvation
43
Out of Darkness
45
Salvation in the South The Year in Arles
62
Through a looking glass by a dark reason The Final Struggle for Life and Art
89
From Here to Eternity Gauguins Journey Towards Nirvana
115
Decadence and Disillusionment in the West
117
Death and Rebirth in the Garden Tahiti 18911893
140
Bitter Interlude and Return to Paradise 18931903
159
NOTES
177
ILLUSTRATIONS
191
BIBLIOGRAPHY
193
INDEX
199
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

About the author (1998)

Vincent van Gogh was one of the great post-impressionist masters and, because of the power and accessibility of his work and the tragedy and dedication of his life, he became a legend as an artist. He was born on March 30, 1853 in the Netherlands.The son of a Dutch parson, he was largely self-taught as an artist. Ascetic and intensely spiritual, he viewed art as almost a religious vocation. He painted incessantly and left a vast volume of work but sold only one picture during his lifetime. In 1888, van Gogh went to Arles in search of the glowing sunlight, there breaking from the somber, earthbound realism of his early style to the brilliant color, passionate thick brushstrokes, and incredible joyousness of his later style. Some of these paintings include: The Yellow House, Bedroom in Arles, The red vineyard, and paul Gauguin's Armchair. Although he suffered a mental breakdown in his later years, he still went on to paint masterpieces like Starry Night and The Sower. On July 27, 1890 he is said to have shot himself. Many believe this was a suicide act, but others maintain it was accidental or that he was shot by neighboring kids with a "malfunctioning" gun. The gun was never found. His letters to his brother Theo are a moving and fascinating account of his working processes and the agony and drama of his daily life. Van Gogh was buried on July 30 in the municipal cemetery of Auvers-sur-Oise at a funeral attended by his brother, Theo van Gogh, who died six months later, on January 25, 1891. They are buried side by side.

Paul Gauguin, together with Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Cezanne, was one of the great masters of postimpressionism. His life story, prototypical of the artist-rebel, was the subject of films and novels, such as The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham. Born in Paris, Gauguin spent his youth with his mother's family in Peru and went to sea as a 16-year-old. He then became a stockbroker in Paris, painting only in his spare time. His early paintings were in the impressionist style. In 1883 he broke with his bourgeois life and eventually separated from his family. In 1888 he visited Van Gogh in Arles---with disastrous results. In 1891 he went to Tahiti. Apart from a short return to Paris, he spent the rest of his life in the South Sea Islands, suffering from poverty, poor health, and recurring struggles with the colonial authorities. In his art, Gauguin sought to return to nature and truth. Inspired by the islanders, among whom he was living, he covered his canvases with stark forms, rhythmic patterns, and strong color, going far beyond naturalistic representation. Through this, his influence on modern art was powerful. His book Noa Noa (1894--1900) is a moving account of his thoughts and life.

Bibliographic information