Is it Van Goh or Van Goff? Or, possibly, Van Goch, where the ‘ch’ is pronounced like the ‘ch’ in loch – a kind of guttural, Scottish sound. According to Grammarphobia, this last one is the closest to the Dutch pronunciation. However you say his name, Vincent Van Gogh was one of a kind.
Once, when I was in New York City on business and had a few free hours, I walked to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I wanted to see the Exhibit on 15th, 16th, and 17th century armor. I figured I could manage that in a couple of hours. I never made it to see the armor; instead, I bought a ticket to see a special exhibit of Van Gogh paintings from the final months of his life, the months he spent in a hospital in Arles, France in addition to those final months he spent at the Yellow House in Auvers. It was an amazing exhibition and very vivid in my mind all the years later. Especially interesting were the self-portraits. The colors, sometimes strange, vivid, and the poses almost identical. There were maybe 100 of his 800 or 900 paintings in the
museum, all of them exceptional. To think that this self-taught artist completed that many paintings, not to mention drawings, watercolors, and even an etching, in such a short time – less than 10 years – is stunning. I spent my entire free time that afternoon looking at Van Gogh.
Today, I found a film – Loving Vincent – online and watched it. As the promotion materials says, “On 27th July 1890 a gaunt figure stumbled down a drowsy high street at twilight in the small French country town of Auvers. The man was carrying nothing; his hands clasped to a fresh bullet wound leaking blood from his belly. This was Vincent van Gogh, then a little-known artist, now the most famous artist in the world. His tragic death has long been known; what has remained a mystery is how and why he came to be shot. Loving Vincent tells that story.”
The story centers on Armand Roulin, the son of the Post Master of Arles. His father asks him who to deliver to Van Gogh’s brother, Theo, a letter Vincent wrote the week before he died. Grudgingly, the son agrees to deliver the letter. He finds, however, that Theo Van Gogh died soon after Vincent did, so there is no brother to deliver the letter to. During his travels to find Theo and deliver the letter, the Post Master’s son talks to people who knew Van Gogh and finds a mystery surrounding Van Gogh’s assumed suicide. The story line is intriguing.
The film production is nothing short of extraordinary. One hundred artists painted 65,000 frames of the film on Canvas, with oil paint in Van Gogh’s style. The result is a one of a kind, painted, animated film about Vincent Van Gogh. One of a kind, just like the artist. This film shows how the film-makers re-imagined the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh into the medium of film, using the very technology – oil painting – that Vincent used himself. You can find a lot more detail, plus paintings of the cast, at lovingvincent.com. The blogs are very interesting.
This feature-length painted animation - the first film of its kind - is an artistic experience in itself and I recommend you see it. It’s available for streaming on Kanopy, Hoopla, and Hulu. It’s also available for rent on Amazon.