The Mental Museum

Archive for December 2008

Van Gogh and Redon

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Both Vincent Van Gogh and Odilon Redon were post-impressionist artists. Van Gogh from the Netherlands and Redon from France, they, like many of their contemporaries, mastered the art of reinterpreting the still life. Redon was known for depicting from memory and imagination, from inside the mind and less reference from the outside world. A vague yet familiar idea of a vase with flowers painted by Redon leaves the question as to whether the vase is in fact a reinterpretation or simply a manifestation of the artist’s memory and creativity.  Loose and airy flowers emerge from this mind. Completely without atmosphere, flowers stand alone ungrounded in any sort of real tangible world. They are floating much like ideas and bits and pieces of references commited to memory. Vague colors accent the background and asymetrical vessels represent what could be real, but isn’t.  We are left as viewers with no world to reference, nothing to put these creations into context. The vase stands alone in his mind and on the canvas with us left to just simply enjoy his pure vision. Van Gogh however, paints from acute observation and whimsical reinterpretation. His flowers are always grounded to the world, a key clue he is painting from observation. His flowers are confident and bold because they do exist. He is already justified in his subject matter. There is no need to convince because the flowers are there in front of him. Scale and proportion teeter on the brink of being awkward and untrue.  Nonetheless, the eye and the hand are in fact reinterpreting what is real. While this means of imaging is very Dutch in the sense of observing the local world, Redon’s methods stem from a more Renaissance school in which ideals, not reality, prevail. So, offered are two bouquets for our judging and for our own choosing. One created for us from surely fragmented imagery in one minds’ eye and the other, from the concrete world in which we can all relate. Which creations do we prefer?


Written by thementalmuseum

December 26, 2008 at 11:05 pm

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