I’ve told you about Carmen Herrera, who finally met with success at the age of 70, after a life dedicated to painting. Vincent van Gogh, for his part, would never have imagined that he would be so successful today. It’s never too late to become an artist – he was 28 when he started painting. You can identify his style from his use of intense colours, his texture effects, his lively brushstrokes that give his paintings a particular impression of movement. Such a visually characteristic æsthetic was a godsend for Rodarte, which paid tribute to the Dutch painter’s world in its 2012 spring-summer collection.
Van Gogh didn’t attend many painting lessons. For the most part, he was a self-taught artist. In order to develop his technique, he gathered material, shared ideas with his contemporaries – Gauguin, Pissaro and Toulouse-Lautrec, among others – but most of all, he reinterpreted paintings while copying them. Because he drew his inspiration from many artists of his time, van Gogh belonged to several artistic movements. His paintings are steeped in naturalism, since he wished to be the painter of the countryside, and he often chose the underpriviledged as a subject matter; but also in impressionism, expressing visual emotions, the world as felt – rather than seen – by the artist. To sum up, we usually say that van Gogh is a postimpressionic painter.
The end of the 19th century was also the time when Japan opened itself up to the world, and began to export its art to Europe. You would have guessed, Japanese etchings also had a major influence on van Gogh’s work, as you can see above in the painting Almond Blossom. The painter adopted and adapted the codes of Japanese art – the themes, the place of the subject, and the delicacy of the lines – to serve his own paintings.
Still in the perspective of refining his technique, van Gogh also painted series. The Sunflowers series allowed him to perfect his representation skills. In a terracotta pot, we can see sunflowers at different stages of the blossoming process – budding, in full bloom, or withered. This is a metaphor for human life and the passing of time. Originally created to decorate the room of his friend, Gauguin, today this series is Vincent van Gogh’s best known work.
Vincent van Gogh was passionate and perfectionist. He worked relentlessly to provide himself with the means to fulfill his artistic ambitions. His capacity of production was impressive. In just 10 years, he created more than 2,000 paintings! Kate and Murray Mulleavy, the sisters who design for the brand Rodarte, reinvented the most famous of them all and turned them into clothes. The collection has a visual impact, the colours draw the eye and some dresses look like living paintings. The cut of the clothes looks quite young, as does the make-up, and I think we lose something of van Gogh’s older and tortured spirit. But the collection remains striking, and the designers managed to rise up to the challenge of appropriating van Gogh’s powerful paintings.
Photo credits: Vogue
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