I've been on a pilgrimage of sorts -
visiting Arles, France where Vincent Van Gogh spent some of his last years, and
where he created many of his most popular works, including his
Here I am where he painted the Cafe Terrace at Night, and I also visited the hospital where he stayed seeking a cure, and where he painted in the courtyard. I stood on the river embankment where he painted Starry Night over the Rhone, and I visited where The Yellow House used to stand. (where he lived in Arles)
Many consider Van Gogh's time in Arles to be the most creative of his career. Many of Van Gogh's best known works were produced during his time in this town in Provence.
Here you see the dark swirling cypress trees, the the misty twirls of translucent low-hanging clouds, and the golden light and pink atmospheric skies that must have inspired Vincent to paint the that special quality of Light in Arles.
Many of his paintings have not been seen in the west, because they hang in Moscow at the Hermitage or the Pushkin Museum. I noticed several unfamiliar Van Gogh paintings on the postcard racks in Arles, and discovered that they hang in Russia!
Tomorrow I'll go to see more of his work at the D'Orsay Museum in Paris, and when I return home to Denver I'll see the Van Gogh exhibit at the Denver Art Museum.
I didn't realise til this week, that Van Gogh was influenced by Japanese Ukiyo-e woodcut prints. He mentions Japan more than a hundred times in dozens of his letters to friends and family.
Japonaiserie was the term Van Gogh used to express the influence of Japanese art. Impressionist artists such as Manet, Degas and Monet, followed by Van Gogh, began to collect the colored wood-block prints called ukiyo-e. There are more than 400 wood block prints in the collection of Vincent and Theo. (now with the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam) Once you realise the Japanese influence, you find it obvious in his work.
Trends and influences all seem to move in spirals: they go through a cycle, and make a big circle before arriving in the same, but somehow a new and different place. Artists are inspired by the work of others, and then their reinterpretation will serve as an inspiration for someone else in the future. And so it goes....
I wish you a Happy New Year brimming with inspiration and creativity. Don't be afraid to take the inspiration from another artist, because some day your work may light the way for another creative seeker. We are all following on this path together. The separation of time and space are only an illusion. The passion we feel for color and design is Universal, and we feel it just as strongly today, as Vincent did 125 years ago.