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Vincent Van Gogh, 1889

Click on the photo to enlarge.

Did you know . . .
  • that Irises originally sold for 300 francs but was acquired by The Getty in 1987 for $53.2 million?
  • in the last year of his life, Van Gogh created 130 paintings, one of which was Irises, while he was in an asylum?
  • there are no known drawings for this painting and that Vincent himself said that he considered it a study?
  • art critics say that Irises reflects Vincent's angst and mental illness in the lone white iris that is surrounded by the dozens of blue ones? If you look closely, you might see the painting as I do -- the blue irises seem to be "looking" in the direction of the lonely and isolated white flower, adding to the feeling of Otherness.
I have been lucky enough to have seen several of Van Gogh's most famous creations, including Starry Night. The intimate setting of The Getty makes it possible for visitors to see Irises "up close and personal," close enough that the passion, depth, and artistry of the brush strokes are unbelievably clear. Starry Night has a similar quality but where it is a harried, passionate swirl of emotions, the passion in the brush strokes of Irises is more carefully controlled.

No matter how many times I see this piece, my eye is immediately drawn to the left side of the canvas where I am struck with the sadness of a lonely and unique white blob that stands out in a field of blue sameness. Like Van Gogh, that one iris is the same yet different, alone yet surrounded by others. In a single flower, Van Gogh expressed what it feels like to be the Other -- to be Othello, a black convert from Islam to Christianity, in the world of the race, class, and religious conscious Venetians; to be Shylock, a Jew whose Old Testament understanding of justice is anathema to the New Testament "quality of mercy" Venetians; to be Vincent Van Gogh, a passionate artist with extraordinary vision, in a world of ordinary uniformity.
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4 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    That's a pretty picture. And the information is wonderful. You know, I am very stupid in art and art work so I've learned something today :)

  2. Kekibird Says:

    Oh so cool! I love Art and Art History. Sadly, mommy brain has killed any memory what who did what and who painted what. But I still love to look at it!

  3. Buckeroomama Says:

    Thanks for the little bit of art history. It's always nice to get a bit of background with the pic.

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