May 9, 2011

She had me at yel-low.

When I was in fourth grade my school had a program where once a month one of the parents would come into the classroom with a copy of a famous piece of art and explain it to the class.  The first piece I ever saw was Van Gogh's Sunflowers; our friend Holly's mom, Mrs. Rushton, told us about the piece.  (I really cannot believe I remember names.)  Mrs. Rushton told us all about Vincent and his mental illness, how he cut off his ear - all very honest for a class full of fourth graders - but it got to me.  She also talked to us about the colors Van Gogh used and pointed out the painting is not merely yellow and green, but rather many different tints, tones and shades of the colors, blending together to create the beautiful sunflowers.  And then Mrs. Rushton hooked me, she said that to this day (well, at least when I was in fourth grade) the paint was still wet!  No way!  She explained that oil paint dries very slowly, if at all, but that we could not touch the painting to find out because museums rope these famous works of art off.  She warned us sternly to never, ever, touch the paintings in museums (something I still want to do to this day).  Heck, I touched a marble table at The Huntington Library last week and the security guard nearly exclaimed, "off with her head!"

But I digress.  6 years ago I traveled to Amsterdam.  Guess what's there?  Yep, the Van Gogh Museum.  I had been looking for Sunflowers all over Europe (lazily never bothering to look it up online) and had yet to find it.  I realized on this day, my one day in Amsterdam, that this might be my chance - Sunflowers could be in the very building in which I stood!  Jackpot!  It took a while, and I almost blazed past all the other paintings to find it (annoying Jim and several patrons), but find it I did - a full circle moment.  I think I even cried a little.  My quest to see the first painting ever explained to me as a child was right there in front of me and I soooooooooooo wanted to touch it to find out if Mrs. Rushton was right.  But I controlled the urge - mostly because I didn't want to miss the rest of the exhibit (and every step I would have to retrace), but also because the exit was far too far away and there was no way I could stick my finger in that paint and make a run for it without getting into some serious trouble.

I left the museum that day with a book of all the paintings in the Van Gogh Museum and a print....of....The Bedroom.  Well, Suflowers is in my book and I fell in love with a new painting that day, one that now hangs in our guest room (OK, so it's a copy).  So, without further ado, here are two of my favorite Van Gogh pieces - one I waited to see in person for nearly 25 years - totally worth it.

Vincent Van Gogh
Sunflowers, 1888
Oil on Canvas
92.1 cm × 73 cm (36.2 in × 28.7 in)
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Vincent Van Gogh
The Bedroom, 1888
Oil on Canvas
72 cm x 90 cm
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam


Jules said...

How funny you should post about this.One of my Mother's first gifts to my son was a framed print of 'Sunflowers.10 years later, as his interest in art had grown, she sent him a smaller one of 'The Bedroom'. Both hang on his bedroom wall today. I always loved them too.How lucky you are to have seen originals.

Kelly H-Y said...

We visited his home in Paris ... interesting, but a bit strange. I had no idea that he was one of your favorites!!

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