Dec 30, 2009

Analysis of The Red Vineyard at Arles (Van Gogh)

Nature, with her endless beauty, has inspired man in many ways; painters, musicians, architects, doctors, fashion designers and the list goes on. Vincent Van Gogh (1853 – 1890), the famous impressionist, was no different. One day, he happened to walk past a vineyard and was so mesmerized by the richness of nature that he painted the scene entirely from memory. The only painting he ever sold during his lifetime, 'The Red Vineyard at Arles' is a beautiful composition of contrasting fiery colors.

The painting now rests in Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, Russia.

Perspectives on the Painting

I had the opportunity to discuss the painting with a few friends and here are a few snippets of the interesting conversation that ensued (the names have been hidden on request):

A: I like (painting) for two reasons: 1- it's the only painting he ever sold during his lifetime and this creates an attractive sense of sobriety for the painting; 2 - the reds and yellows used in the painting seem to tell a deep and rich story for the scenery, which gets me thinking and wondering...

B: You're drawn into the painting and become part of the scene and; interaction of the people. A very humanistic piece that I think most people would relate to. It has a real family working together flavour."

A: The picture does pull you into itself and you... believe you're in the 1800s overseeing the peasants work the field

B: It kind of reminded me of Holland, Russia or another country where there was peasants working diligently to bring in their crops for the winter. The last of the summer warmth, before the cold sets in... lovely. Interesting though, you see yourself as the overseer, where I see myself as one of the workers. The symbolism says a lot for who we are in life.

A: Your suggestion about the symbolism is rather interesting since I find it difficult to interpret. I would have thought, perhaps, it would relate to our personalities, but maybe you've got a different view you'd like to share.

B: For me, it would be definitely related to how we view ourselves in the world.You saw yourself as the overseer and I saw myself as a peasant working in the fields. Doesn't mean that one is better than the other, just depends on what you see and value yourself, most as...this picture mostly reminded me of a family working together to provide for the future. The gathering of the grains and the fish. Love symbolism and enjoy interpreting things from my perspective of the world. We all see things differently, which is why we are all so unique and special. Hope I'm making sense.

A: Thanks for explaining it so wonderfully... I completely understand what you're saying ... it's odd how even though i see myself as an overseer, I do not consider myself a leader. When I look at that picture, I am merely a passerby who observes the story of the peasants as a charmed tourist, perhaps. you, on the other hand, saw yourself as one who creates value...without this function, little would be accomplished in this world :)

B: I don't think when I looked at the painting I saw myself as one who created value, I was just one of the peasants working diligently to provide what was needed to sustain a family orcommunity, through what I imagined would be the cold and desolate winter months.

Source: (Image)
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