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November 2019: Lecture on Vincent van Gogh
We had something a little different this month. Not an artist demonstration but an enjoyably discursive lecture about Vincent van Gogh by Professor Anthony Slinn.
This touched on both the relatively well-known - his heavily religious upbringing, his most famous paintings, his closeness and reliance upon his brother Theo, his ill-fated period with Paul Gauguin, the lack of appreciation in his own lifetime - and the less well-known such as his early drawings and dark heavy paintings, that he was the second Vincent (born a year to the day after the death of his older namesake), his period of happiness teaching in London and so forth.
There was also plenty of art appreciation comment on the compositional, framing and colour choices of van Gogh.
The lecture was rounded off by playing Don McLean's hit single of 1972, "Vincent" [also known as "Starry Starry Night"] with it's numerous allusions to actual works by Vincent. Anthony Slinn had researched this carefully and was able to marry words with slide images as the song continued. An excellent finale.
The lyrics, by the way, are:-

Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and grey
Look out on a summer's day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul
Shadows on the hills
Sketch the trees and the daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills
In colors on the snowy linen land

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free
They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they'll listen now

Starry, starry night
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds in violet haze
Reflect in Vincent's eyes of china blue
Colors changing hue
Morning fields of amber grain
Weathered faces lined in pain
Are soothed beneath the artist's loving hand

Now I understand ...

For they could not love you
But still your love was true
And when no hope was left in sight
On that starry, starry night
You took your life, as lovers often do
But I could have told you, Vincent
This world was never meant for one
As beautiful as you

Starry, starry night
Portraits hung in empty halls
Frameless heads on nameless walls
With eyes that watch the world and can't forget
Like the strangers that you've met
The ragged men in the ragged clothes
The silver thorn, a bloody rose
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow

Now I think I know

They would not listen, they're not listening still
Perhaps they never will

A glimpse of an early drawing by Vincent

And here's a bonus treat if you'd like to explore Vincent's amazing brushwork
1) Go to
2) (Important) Click on the picture
3) Now, if you move the cursor over the Starry Night picture you should see a little version of the painting appear off to the right like this
whole starry night.jpg
base of spire.jpg
4) Click on that little picture and you can zoom in ridiculously! Here's a shot of the very base of the church steeple, for instance
Anthony Slinn Nov 2019 cropped.jpg

Otter Vale Art Society

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