Yet Vincent persisted to become one of the world’s great artists, albeit one who did not live to see his mug on, well, mugs.
What many may not know is the story of the heroine in all this – Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, wife of Vincent’s brother and soul-mate, Theo. When her husband died, six months after Vincent’s death by his own hand on July 29, 1890 at age 37, Johanna – a former schoolteacher with a baby son she and Theo had named Vincent — began going through all the letters that her husband kept from Vincent, along with the paintings. Those letters and artworks not only brought her husband back to her; they brought Vincent to life.
Slowly, she began editing and publishing the letters and curating and exhibiting the works. It’s fair to say that Johanna made Vincent the Vincent we know today.
To whet your appetite for the new book, here’s one of Vincent’s most famous works, “Wheatfield With Cypresses” (1889), part of the collection of “The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which reopens Aug. 29. It certainly captures Vincent’s idea that art isn’t about the reality of a thing but how the artist feels about that reality.
While you’re looking at it, you can listen to Don McLean’s “Vincent,” – one artist’s poignant tribute to another.
– Georgette Gouveia