Archive for February, 2011

Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

What can you say about a 37 year old artist who died? A lot apparently. Over a hundred years has past since Vincent van Gogh died, in 1890, and his work still remains vibrant. I went for the closing day of the de Young Museum’s exhibit of the Musee d’ Orsay’s Post Impressionist collection in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

It was a large exhibit of many painters but I kept coming back to the room with the paintings by Vincent van Gogh and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. For the most part I swept past Degas, Gauguin, Seurat, Monet, Renoir, and Cezanne. There was no greater snob that day.

To say that their reputations precede these artists is an under statement. There is no unbiased viewer. Once you start throwing around the word “genius” it is very hard to evaluate anything. Having read, “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell, I went with my first reactions and that always lead me back to Van Gough and Lautrec.

Toulouse-Lautrec came from a wealthy aristocratic family and made himself famous with his posters. His art was well regarded and he was famous and successful in his life time. After he died his mother built a museum for his artwork, so a fine collection of his paintings exist today in his home town of Albi.

Although both died at 37,Van Gogh was not so lucky. His work was unpopular and he had to rely on his family for modest support. Perhaps there is satisfaction in the fact that by the mid 20th century Van Gogh was seen as one of the greatest and most recognizable painters in history