Skip to comments.Paul Gauguin's tribute to Vincent Van Gogh expected to fetch £10m
Posted on 01/30/2011 4:36:10 PM PST by SeekAndFind
A still life of sunflowers by Paul Gauguin, painted in tribute to his friend Vincent Van Gogh, is expected to fetch up to £10 million at auction.
Gauguin painted the work, Nature morte à L'Espérance, in 1901 while he was living in Tahiti. It is the highlight of an Impressionist and Modern Art sale at Christie's in London on February 9.
The depiction of sunflowers was a fitting tribute to Van Gogh and a reference to the months in 1888 when the two artists shared a home, a period that ended in tragedy. The pair lived together in Arles, France, spending their days at work in what was known as the Yellow House. At the time, both were poor and unknown, although Gauguin was slowly developing a name for himself.
It was there that Van Gogh produced his own sunflower paintings and he decorated Gauguin's bedroom walls with them. However, his drinking and mental instability led their friendship to unravel. "Between two such beings as he and I, the one a perfect volcano, the other boiling inwardly, some sort of struggle was preparing," Gauguin wrote.
In the grip of manic depression, Van Gogh sliced off part of his left ear on December 23. Gauguin left Arles on Christmas Day and the two never saw each other again. Van Gogh died in 1890.
When Gauguin moved to Tahiti, he wrote to a friend back in France asking him to send sunflower seeds so that he could recreate a little corner of France in the South Seas. The painting was done "doubtless in part as a tribute to his friend and fellow artistic pioneer Vincent Van Gogh, who had died just over a decade earlier", a Christie's spokesman said.
(Excerpt) Read more at telegraph.co.uk ...
Well, I’ve studied art history, have a BFA and have critiqued numerous artists and their work before, so it’s surprising to me that this apparently highly noteworthy Gauguin leaves me cold. The color palette is murky and uninspired, composition is not particularly compelling and the subject matter is not just trite but somehow oddly depressing.
To think that this brown smudge of dead sunflowers and childish doodles of human figures is to fetch ten million pounds is just amazing to me, I really don’t see it. They have to be buying the provenance and the name(s), and not the beauty of the work. That, or the JPEG absolutely does not do it justice at all.
Or maybe I’m just feeling curmudgeonly, presuming to tackle a Gauguin and panning it.
/artsnob off, lol
I agree with you 100%.
Nice to have company, I figured I’d get flamed, lol.
I don’t have any art degrees but I have painted for 20 years and taken classes and workshops and I completely agree with you on this Gauguin. It has got to be one of the ugliest paintings I have seen in a while. I am not crazy about Gauguin’s work generally, I think he was celebrated for his life style more than anything.
I have a BA in Art History and concur with your assessment. This is by far one of the weakest and least dynamic work of Gauguin’s that I’ve ever seen. Granted, I have little interest in much 19th century stuff after the Pre-Raphaelites to begin with, but at least a lot of late-impressionist to post-impressionist stuff is visually interesting (especially Seurat :-). This looks like the canvas was dropped in a mud puddle.
My thinking on this is twofold.
On the one hand, I think that a lot of the value is because the painting is Gauguin's tribute to van Gogh.
On the other hand, while I agree that this isn't anywhere near as praiseworthy as much of Gauguin's other works, it's also been my amateur opinion that pictures of Impressionist art never even come close to capturing the beauty of the original.
Chance one has to take. As person in the arts, it’s sometimes frustrating and a challenge to communicate about art related themes in a Conservative forum. Sometimes I think it might be easier to convert leftists to our side than to have the average Conservative develop an aesthetic sensibility.
Funny but Lust for Live (movie) is on right now as we speak. Vincent: Kirk Douglas and Paul Gauguin: Anthony Quinn. Great acting and many wonderful paintings of their works.
You have a point re photos of paintings.
change to : Lust For Life
Great collection at the Art Institute in Chicago.
I wondered how you could make any determination sight unseen. I would suspect the innate limitations of the Internet above all else. El Greco doesn't have a great impact on a webpage either.
Have you ever seen it?
The only reason I can see that the Gauguin is expected to fetch such a price is the history contained within the imagery. The sunflowers are dead because the famous painter of them is dead also, and this was intended to commemorate his passing.
It’s nice that everyone has different tastes in art.
(I’m not too fond of this one. To my totally untrained eye: Scratchy-itchy in unpleasant colors.)
We finally have a winner here!
Some things come across in a photo on a website, such as composition and subject matter. Color can fall flat or pick up an ugly cast. I don’t see color being able to carry this, it’s just not appealing on any level above and beyond the names associated with it and the moment in time that it represents.
I just saw the Dali exhibit at the High Museum. He is so much more than melted clocks. I could stand and look at the "Temptation of St. Anthony" for hours.
I think Picasso used to take a model to the tavern before a sitting and get her shiftfaced.
No, actually I’m more fond of several modernists than I am of certain impressionists. It’s far more challenging to work sparely than to create complexity, which hides any number of flaws. A stark Picasso stands on it’s own, there is interest as far as the interplay of color theory and even music with his work from the era that you cite. His earlier stuff was actually nearly monochrome and highly textured, which I find appealing as well, more than the work for which he’s famous on some days.
Dali was a bit of a grifter, to be perfectly honest, and it’s hard to separate the man from his work. It’s entertaining to view in an Alice In Wonderland, down the rabbit hole, trippy sort of way. It’s technically proficient and his use of color isn’t bad at all. But, he ain’t no Hieronymus Bosch, that’s for sure.
I think that was the point. It was taking some of Van Gogh's traditional subjects but painting it to reflect his depression and bleakness.
You points may be valid but I have seen composition and subject matter transcended in an original work by an unanticipated size or detail that does not come through in a photograph or even worse a digitized facsimile on a web-page. I suspect in this case color is much more important as it influences the impact of the composition. I know we both would still love to see it on display.
I wouldn’t mind seeing it in person at all, that’s true. In boom times there are often novice art collectors with loads of hot money to bid up works that really don’t merit the attention, but in a down economy such as this, you’d have to assume there’s something actually there. Then again, the hot money isn’t really all gone, either. Obama’s certainly pumping enough of it out, so I don’t know.
Great description. It's like when you go to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus you can still feel the influence of P. T. Barnum, the grifter. It's just part of the purchase price of the entertainment.
It was this scene of some old park with oddly dressed people enjoying themselves near the water. The colors were odd in that they seemed to be painted in dots.
Not long after, we had a field trip to downtown Chicago; I don't recall if it was a class or a family thing. A major part of the visit was to the Institute. There, I learned that the painting was Un dimanche après-midi à l'Île de la Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat, and I got to see it for my first time in all its glory.
Still later, during my college years in the 60's, I spent time in the windy city on various occasions and paid my second visit to the Institue. When I got to The Painting, and despite having seen it as a kid, I really wasn't prepared for its huge dimensions. The size is part of its impact of course.
I was also fascinated by the other impressionists, of which the Institute has, as you mentioned, an excellent collection.
Just a couple of Christmases ago during a visit with relatives in the area, I scheduled a day in downtown Chicago primarily to revisit the Art Institute and spend more time there than I previously had 40 years before.
There it was; the painting, clearly still the centerpiece of the Institute's collection.
Just watched it. Very good movie.
That being said, the painting does nothing for me. ;o)
It's just very surprisingly out of character. He knew Van Gogh quite well, painted portraits of him and was clearly very profoundly affected. That this comes from his Tahitian period makes it even more of an outlier, these typically are a riot of color.
I tend to associate Gauguin with paintings such as this, which is Les Alyscamps Arles:
There’s a connection locally with the Cone family and that collection has travelled down here, I’ve seen it. They had quite the eye and it was well worth the time.
I saw that painting first hand back in 1968 or so. As an artist myself, I was very impressed, in fact, I actually touched it. Put my finger tip on one of the flowers. Very thick oil painting. I was 18 at the time. Good thing that that was back in the day before cameras everywhere and storm trooper security or I’d still be in the slammer.
Art is subjective, no matter what one’s political philosophy is.
I had a similar experience with that painting.
If it’s subjective then it has failed as art.
One can be objective about whether or not an artwork is good, based on the workmanship, composition, choice of colors, etc., but whether or not one likes the piece is subjective.
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