Many consider art, particularly fine art, to be boring. However, I found that even fine art has a newfound charm once I began to learn a bit of art history and understand the painter behind the painting. It is tolerable and vastly interesting once you examine art deliberately, artist by artist, and getting to know the painters as people versus mere machines to crank out artwork. Consider this piece, “Sunset at Montmajour,” the newly discovered piece by Vincent van Gogh. The average person may only see trees and a partly cloudy sky on what appears to be a pleasant day with a view that is pleasing to the eyes. But to only see that is dull and it is unappreciative of the piece.
To approach understanding of this piece, you must first consider Vincent van Gogh. He was known for being incredibly emotional to the point of near madness, unhappy, yet committed to expressing beauty with his artwork and thus creating happiness for his audiences.
With that information, this painting unmistakably reflects van Gogh’s personality. The many brushstrokes of the shrubbery portrayed in the piece reflect his emotional side; passionate brushstrokes create an image that, though rough and unrefined, is free and lively. The sunrise shows positivity and hope. You must consider that, despite the unhappiness that this man suffered, these paintings reveal a glimpse into the unique, undying hope he has for the world. Knowing that, each piece leaves me with a bittersweet feeling.
Few people now can properly consider the beauty of nature, much less view it with such a vivacious perspective. It is a true pleasure to have the opportunity to view the world through this man’s eyes. Fine art—no, art in general allows this unparalleled experience: to be able to witness the world through another’s eyes. New doors open, from which both happiness and darkness spill out. Entire worlds sprout from the world you have known all your life. The first painting is an introductory handshake shared with a new acquaintance. When you continue to view other pieces of artwork by an artist, you learn more about this person as a human being. With your own eyes, you can see their emotional high points and their low points; and whether it is the subject matter, brush strokes, or color, new details of this person are revealed with each painting. You discover their passion for seas and sailboats, the painstakingly detailed strokes for each individual hair they have painted for the portrait of their loved one, their fascination with how the sunset turns skin pink and purple and yellow and gives it an otherworldly, dream-like image.
Some artists capture the hearts of their viewers with that first introduction. For me, I came to appreciate van Gogh only after I learned more about the man behind the pieces. Otherwise, he comes off as overrated or uninteresting. Why should this man be so highly regarded, a crazy man who cut off his own earlobe? His more famous paintings, characterized by their use of blue and yellow could never capture my affection for his art. But a piece like this which speaks so deeply of who van Gogh actually was—this is a piece that transcends that boredom and allows me to reconsider the his artwork and the artist who I had previously overlooked and undervalued.