It’s hard to imagine feeling as though your world is so broken and the sadness so deep that you have to mutilate yourself in order to find any peace. I guess that’s how cutters feel and maybe how Vincent felt.
Vincent moved to the south of France, some say to start his own artist colony while being supported by his brother, Theo. Theo was able to talk Paul Gauguin to move there and keep Vincent company. Vincent had a great admiration for Gauguin and saw him as a kind of mentor. Gauguin influenced Vincent’s style, especially in the use of vibrant colors. Vincent painted his famous Sunflowers for Paul and in anticipation of his arrival. But they had a very turbulent relationship and after an intense and almost violent argument with Gauguin, Vincent took a shaving razor and cut off his own ear.
This was the beginning of a downward mental spiral for Vincent that not only resulted in committing himself to an asylum and his suicide but also some of the most wonderful art of his short lifetime. After shooting himself, it took him 2 more days to die. His final words to Theo were “the sadness will last forever.” He was right – the sadness will last forever because we will never know the fullness of his art. He was only 37 when he died.
The importance of Paul Gauguin in Vincent’s life is reflected in this self portrait – over his left shoulder is a Gauguin painting.
I have to wonder why he put Paul’s painting in his own self portrait. Was he trying to manipulate Paul with this passive/aggressive gesture? To make Paul feel guilty? Was he trying to tell us that he loved Paul so much that he put his work inside his own? Was he trying to integrate himself into Paul’s world? Was Vincent saying that he would never be good enough – never be as good as his idol?
It’s a question I guess I’ll ask him over lunch when I get to heaven.
I wrote about the assassination of Theo Van Gogh over a year ago. Theo (the great grand nephew of Vincent) was murdered on the streets in Amsterdam, in plain site. I have a soft spot for Theo because I love the treasures his great great uncle left us. His uncle, also named Theo was a resistance fighter during WWII and was executed by the Third Reich. His father, Johan was a member of the Dutch secret service.
Theo was arrogant and basically not a real polite guy. In fact, he was kind of a jerk but that does not by any means, excuse his murder. He was a hard drinker and smoked furiously.
Theo produced and directed a very enlightening film – Submission – about the treatment of Muslim women. I posted that on this blog, last year, too. But it bears being repeated. This is part 1:
While he was cycling to work one morning in November of 2004, he was murdered by a radical Muslim and had a 5 page note left stabbed into his chest.
Now Muslim clerics are calling for the murder – once again – of Geert Wilders. Yesterday, I posted a speech he gave in NYC 2 years ago. Geert is a member of the Dutch parliament and is currently on trial for “hate speech” and inciting violence by producing the film that I posted in another blog below. He is being accused of using the words of the Koran and images of terror attacks by Muslims, which the Dutch claim as inciting violence. Amazing, isn’t it?
Wilders told Reuters it was “really terrible news” [that he was being targeted by the Muslim cleric] and that he was taking it seriously.
“I will ask for clarification from the Dutch minister of interior/justice why the secret service and anti-terrorism unit NCTb have not informed me before and what the consequences will be for me,” he said in an email.
Wilders was also charged because of outspoken remarks in the media, such as an opinion piece in a Dutch daily in which he compared Islam to fascism and the Koran to Adolf Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf.”
Of late he has been in the news for plans to speak out against a planned mosque in New York City on September 11, the ninth anniversary of the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.
But his views have also made him extremely popular with a segment of the country uneasy about the Netherlands’ commitment to multiculturalism.
I believe that there are peace loving, moderate Muslims but they are not speaking out about this or any other thing the Islamic fanatics are doing, have done or saying they will do. I’m a true believer that if there were more Muslims who would stand up and disavow this kind of violence and hatred, it would move their cause in a great way with the American people..
But I’m afraid the next murder will be that of Geert Wilders.