Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Vincent

A humbling complement I sometimes hear is "I wish I had your talent." Over the years I have responded "Perhaps you wouldn't if you knew all that went along with it." I'm not sure but I believe artistic talent is really just a symptom of a some sort of disorder. I wanted to share my favorite biographical films about  artists, surprisingly there are quite a few. The all time classic is the 1956 film with Kirk Douglas "Lust For Life." Douglas' eerie resemblance and gut wrenching performance makes it benchmark for films about artists.


Based on a book that was derived from his volumes of letters that Vincent sent to his brother Theo, the film is a portrait of the anguish of the tortured mind that could only find refuge in a paint brush. Vincent set the cliche' of struggling artists. A patron saint for artists who never sold any work during his painful life of self mutilation, absinthe binges and stays at mental asylums, yet today is one of the most celebrated geniuses in the art world.

I saw my first Van Gogh painting in a museum at Princeton University, and I nearly wept. To stand a few feet in front of one of his paintings was occupy space that transcended time and feel the joy of it's beauty, and the grief of it's creator. I dare say that if painting and art was a religion, Vincent would be the Christ figure.

 

Another biographical film about the life of  Van Gogh is "Vincent and Theo." This film examines the relationship between Vincent and his brother Theo who supported and nurtured the insane artist. Theo deserves gratitude and credit from the art world for enabling his sibling to create the wonders that we now hold in great regard. Tim Roth's incredible performance is scary in it's intensity.


 

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