Wednesday, July 28, 2010

landscapes of an embattled mind

"Living with lunatics, he wrote, paradoxically took his mind off of his own state and the frightening unpredictability of [epileptic] fits. 'For although there are some who rave and howl a great deal, there is much true friendship here. They say that we must tolerate each other so others may tolerate us ... and we understand each other very well.' In between attacks then, van Gogh seemed possessed by clarity and strength. So the phenomenal sequence of paintings achieved at the Arles hospital, and especially at St Rémy, with their convulsive bucklings and writhings, the cartwheeling stars, rocks heaving in sinuous arabesques, the cyclonic rush of brushstrokes through the quaking cypresses, should not read as documents of descent into lunacy."
- Simon Schama, Power of Art, p. 334