Private life of a Masterpiece BBC Documentary
In 2012 van Gogh was granted a magnificent biography (and yes i mean MAGNIFICENT biography). Written by Steven Naifeh and Greg Smith the almost 1,000 page biography roams from his early life in The Netherlands to his death in France. This biography is taxing on the reader not only because of this length but also due to the fact that it is a study in misery. Van Gogh’s life was full of sorrow, despair, and rejection.
When I was perusing through the European Arts section at the MET Museum a few weeks ago, I walked into the room which holds van Goghs and Guagains. Set apart from the wall stands a self-portrait of van Gogh. He looks mournful, maybe a little defiant but mainly, melancholic. Art goers and tourists rushed up to the portrait lifted up their thumbs and smiled for the camera their families and friends were holding. They weren’t looking at the portrait or thinking about the man who painted such a sad painting. Everyone is pushing their way to stand next this painting so that they can take a picture of themselves and then move on. If they really stopped and looked at those eyes and thought about the man in the painting they would not be so motivated to smile next to him or to even want a picture of it. Van Gogh’s paintings are incredible without knowing the context in which they were created, but learning about the man’s life, the daily mental pain he suffered through his entire life, I promise you, it will change the way you look at his art. It may make it hard to look at his paintings. You might not be able to grin next to his portrait of his shoes or give a thumbs up next to his self-portrait that he painted after his infamous self-harm incident. Please visit the CBS.com website to watch a short video about the biography.