>I love Goodwilling it and consider it like treasure hunting. One never knows what one’s gonna find there. A week or so ago, starting on my collage tangent, I picked up a book entitled Van Gogh’s “Diary”: The Artist’s Life in His Own Words and Art. Edited by Jan Hulsker, it captures Van Gogh’s thoughts since they are based on letters written by the artist to his brother, and others.
Growing up attending Catholic elementary school and public high school focused first on religious history and later academic studies, I missed out on art classes and art history and the like. And like a dumbass, in college, I decided to take Music Appreciation instead of Art Appreciation because roommates and friends were taking it. (That I can’t read a single note despite being expelled in frustration after two years of lessons given by the widowed Packanack Lake piano teacher whose sole income was teaching the likes of me should’ve tipped me off to the lack of wisdom in that choice.) So, I missed out on studying art and found visiting museums well, something to do just to take in the anthropoligical influences. Until I visited Vienna a few years back. There, at the Kunsthistoriches, my appreciation for fine art was awakened like a virgin’s hunger for more following a first orgasm.
But I digress…
I could not put the book down. Not that Van Gogh is my all-time favorite, but I loved to read his words, discover little gems that sprung from his mind. I even defaced this precious (1971 published) book with a few faint pencil asterisks and quote marks, envisioning including certain phrases into my art journal, and perhaps here too! It was sad reading about his ever-increasing episodes into madness, and I was interested to learn that the bit about the cutting off his ear for the love of a woman, which I’d always heard, was nonsense. He did cut it off, but after a big fight with fellow painter Gauguin. I was struck by two things: First, the diligence with which he learned and practiced his art, applying himself first to drawing for many, many months before ever taking up a brush and paint. Second, his observation that the light and colors in the south of France are much different than in the north. Oh, and the fact that in little more than nine years, he painted some 900 paintings, and countless drawings as well.
The last entry before his suicide doesn’t hint at his intent to end his life though earlier entries do raise the subject of suicide. Like most others in the book, his last words were in a letter to his brother, Theo, who passed away only months after Vincent himself. Theo had been Vincent’s supporter for years, both emotionally and monetarily and had been in poor health, often noted by Vincent’s words. Theo left behind a young bride and toddler. Years later, she published Vincent’s letters and the words and recollections of Vincent’s mother too. I’d love to read that down the road but am so glad I was the one right then and there at the Goodwill that picked up this precious gem of a book!
Next up, The Andy Warhol Diaries, Edited by Pat Hackett. Another Goodwill find. I love this universe!