Regular readers – well, actually, even irregular readers – of this blog will know that the posts here rest on three codas: running, writing and reading. There are certainly scads of the first category but not so much of the third. So, rejoice readers. This one’s for you.
The book, that is. By Julian Bell, the painter-author with the Grade A bloodlines.
It’s called “Van Gogh: A Power Seething,” a short, intense study of the massive, intense, all-too-short life of Vincent Van Gogh, heretofore to be known as my emotional anti-hero.
Even the most Philistine among us knows that Van Gogh is the painter who in a rage mutilated his ear. Never an ear bud to be stuck in his head.
Who knew, though, that Van Gogh could write. Bell, for one. And he has an ear for the Vincent Bon Mot.
- “One can’t present oneself as somebody who can be of benefit to others or who has an idea that’s bound to be profitable – no, on the contrary, it’s to be expected that it will end with a deficit and yet, yet, one feels a power seething inside one, one has a task to do and it must be done.”
- “His (Jean-Francois Millet’s) peasant seems to be painted with the soil he sows.”
- It was only through persistent attention to nature, through a reverence for “the true, the possible,” for “a few clods of earth,” that genuine achievement might arise.
- The best hope for the artist lay in concentrating on a mere “atom of chaos,” in concretely working “to define one single thing.”
- “Pride intoxicates like drink. When one is praise and has drunk one becomes sad.”
- The painter may be in hell, but painting is still heaven.
Next: Running for Your Life: Love Those October Days