Van Gogh Museum

September 22, 2008

Sunflowers (with apologies to Van Gogh)

Sunflowers (with apologies to Van Gogh)

(Yes, I painted that.  My laptop and a giant stack of paper was sitting on the table so my alternative workspace was the hotel bed.  Don’t tell the chambermaid.)

I had a print of Van Gogh’s “Cafe Terrace at Night” hanging next to my dining table in Melbourne. I always loved that picture. There is something about the vibrancy of the blues and yellows and the aggressiveness of the brush strokes that makes me fall in love with Van Gogh.

The Van Gogh Museum was my first stop in Amsterdam. Staying next to Museumplein has its privileges.  (I can hear the bells of the Rijksmuseum from my room.)  I sat on a park bench waiting for the museum to open, while reading my guidebook and trying to prevent a super-friendly dog from eating my leftover chocolate bar from the plane.

Anyway, here are 5 things I didn’t know about Van Gogh:

  1. His earlier work was somewhat Rembrandt-like.  Black pigments?  Who would have thought!
  2. He starting painting at 27!  There is hope for me yet!
  3. Some of his stuff has a very heavy Japanese influence.  I bought a postcard of what looks like cherry-blossoms but I think they really the flowers from a pear tree.
  4. He was an evangelist before becoming a painter.  His still life with Bible and novels had a deep resonance with me.  The tension between “tradition and innovation”.
  5. He painted self-portraits for practice because it was cheaper than paying someone to pose for him.

One last bit of random trivia, one of the first restaurants I ate in when I moved to Melbourne was Camy’s Shanghai Dumpling. My mom hated the place because it was down some dark alley off Chinatown. (Dad loved it though.) Anyway, they had a big, faded print of “Starry Night” on the wall and while walking around the Van Gogh Museum on Saturday, Don McLean’s “Starry, Starry Night” was on loop in my head.

Starry, starry night.
Paint your palette blue and grey,
Look out on a summer’s day,
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul.
Shadows on the hills,
Sketch the trees and the daffodils,
Catch the breeze and the winter chills,
In colors on the snowy linen land.


One Response to “Van Gogh Museum”

  1. mel Says:

    ohman… im so jealous….. wish i was there!

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