Rediscovering Van Gogh

Alright, there's a lot of text following, and it's all because i wanted to show you these Van Gogh paintings that i really like. (and would like on my wall, because i think they're pretty). 

For the whole story, read the words. If you just like pretty things: look at the pictures.

Here goes....
It's probably the same everywhere: when you're a child, grown-ups feel the need to teach you all about art. Now there's nothing wrong with that per sé. On the contrary: in my opinion art should be a large part of the upbringing of any child.
No, the problem is that -at least in my childhood- teachers and art historians are more concerned about telling you which paintings you're supposed to like and why, and less about encouraging you to form your own opinion about art.

Vincent van Gogh - Amandelbloesem (Almond Blossom)
1890 - Oil on canvas

Which paintings are considered 'Classics' might differ from one country to the next. In the Netherlands we're being conditioned to admire the Potato-eaters by van Gogh and Victory Boogie Woogie by Mondriaan.
While in high-school, we visit all the Important museums to listen to elaborate stories about all the Important paintings. If you're not that interested or happen to not like one of those Important art-historical pieces, it means you don't 'get' it.
Basically you grow up with the idea that if you don't like 'the potato-eaters', that means you don't 'get' art and you've failed horribly as an art lover.

Vincent van Gogh - The Bedroom
1888 - Oil on canvas

I can still remember being in a museum in Köln, having to listen to a guide going on and on (and on and on and on...) about one particular painting. I was sixteen years old and after about eight minutes of listening closely to the man's German-tinted English, my feet started to ache and my eyes started to longingly wander to everything else in the museum, including the fire-extinguisher, which started to look pretty damn interesting by minute twelve.
At the time i was a Roy Lichtenstein admirer, and knew there were some pop-art works in the museum. However, when the guide had finally finished his tour of the 'highlights', the museum was about to close, and we only had ten minutes of 'free time' left. Ten minutes most of us used to get the hell out of the place and breathe in fresh air again.

I got so sick of people -art historians, teachers, museum guides- telling me what i'm supposed to like, that for a while i stopped visiting museums altogether.
It took me nearly all my years in art school to get rid of the 'I don't like it - that must mean i'm not getting it-syndrome' and to feel confident enough to again start to form my own opinion about works of art.

Vincent van Gogh - the Yellow House (La Rue)
1888 - Oil on canvas
Well, it turns out that i do actually like some of the Important paintings, but really not all of them, and usually not because of their historical significance or the struggle the artist went through while working on it.
I can like a painting because of the way the artist got the perspective all wrong, the colors that were used in a piece, or if i could imagine it hanging on my wall. Also, i might like a painting one day, and don't care for it the next. No absolutes in my book when it comes to art.

Vincent van Gogh - Wheatfield under thunderclouds
1890 - Oil on canvas

Oh my. So shallow.
Or is it?
Isn't the whole point of art to have people think for themselves whether they like it or not?
Admittedly, sometimes a bit of background information is a nice addition to a first glance. But often a first glance and the subsequent emotion is all it takes, and every attempt to explain why you like a piece would detract from that experience.

Vincent van Gogh - French novels
1888 - oil on canvas
I really like all the paintings in this post. Don't know why, and don't care either.
If you don't like them, that's fine, i might not like them tomorrow either. But if you do, scroll back and feast your eyes.


My name is Jana, this is where i collect things