Letters from Vincent- page 2 | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian
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Van Gogh painted this portrait of himself, dressed as a bourgeois, in Paris, where he stayed with his brother Theo and continued to hone his painting skills. Van Gogh's brief flirtation with the separate, dappled brushstrokes of pointillism is evident in this early effort, which is one of his best paintings from 1887. (Self-Portrait: Three Quarters to the Right)(Van Gogh Museum)

Letters from Vincent

Never-before-exhibited correspondence from van Gogh to a protégé displays a thoughtful exacting side of the artist

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(Continued from page 1)

While always working directly on the spot, I try to capture the essence in the drawing—then I fill the spaces demarcated by the outlines (expressed or not) but felt in every case, likewise with the simplified tints, in the sense that everything that will be earth will share the same purplish tint, that the whole sky will have a blue tonality, that the greenery will either be blue greens or yellow greens, deliberately exaggerating the yellow or blue values in that case. Anyway, my dear pal, no trompe l'oeil in any case....
—handshake in thought, your friend Vincent

Arles, c. June 7, 1888

More and more it seems to me that the paintings that ought to be made, the paintings that are necessary, indispensable for painting today to be fully itself and to rise to a level equivalent to the serene peaks achieved by the Greek sculptors, the German musicians, the French writers of novels, exceed the power of an isolated individual, and will therefore probably be created by groups of men combining to carry out a shared idea....

Very good reason to regret the lack of an esprit de corps among artists, who criticize each other, persecute each other, while fortunately not succeeding in canceling each other out.

You'll say that this whole argument is a banality. So be it—but the thing itself—the existence of a Renaissance—that fact is certainly not a banality.

Arles, c. June 19, 1888

My God, if only I had known about this country at twenty-five, instead of coming here at thirty-five—In those days I was enthusiastic about gray, or rather, absence of color....Here's [a] sketch of a sower.

Large field with clods of plowed earth, mostly downright violet.

Field of ripe wheat in a yellow ocher tone with a little crimson....

There are many repetitions of yellow in the earth, neutral tones, resulting from the mixing of violet with yellow, but I could hardly give a damn about the veracity of the color....

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