Friday, June 20, 2008
Stormy Weather (Part Two)
As promised, a second storm-themed painting from Vincent's oeuvre, this one from the end of his career, indeed, the end of his life. "Wheatfield under Thunderclouds," also known as "Wheatfield under Clouded Sky" (among other titles), was likely painted between July 6 and July 10, 1890, only a few weeks before Vincent's death in Auvers-sur-Oise. You can see the difference in color scheme between this painting and "View of the Sea at Scheveningen" that I posted earlier in the week, the latter influenced by the Hague School and Vincent's exposure to Dutch art generally, this painting showing the vibrant colors Vincent adopted later in his career (and for which he's most famous). "Wheatfield under Thunderclouds" shows a tendency toward abstraction, too, and makes admirable use of the so-called "double-square" (50 x 100 cm) format, which Vincent used for the first time while in Auvers. This is by no means VIncent's first use of the wheatfield motif: wheatfields and activities associated with wheatfields (sowing, reaping) attracted him from the very beginning of his artistic career and followed him to the very end. For Vincent, the wheatfields were a metaphor for the cycles of life and death, and the motif exemplifies the latent spirituality present in many (if not most) of van Gogh's paintings.
If you visit Auvers-sur-Oise today (I didn't forget I was going to do some Auvers-themed posts too), you can wander the wheatfields Vincent painted, although it's impossible to pinpoint the spot in this exact painting. Up on the plateau above the town, the fields stretch for miles under the sky, and it's easy to feel the sense of infinity Vincent tried to capture in this picture. The painting itself is in the Van Gogh Museum, and although one can say this about every van Gogh painting, the textures and colors are so much more vibrant in person than they are in a photograph.