Friday, January 7, 2011

Starry Starry Night . . .

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On Sunday, the second of January, though it was cold, dark, dismal and drizzling, we wanted to get out for some fresh air and a bit of a stroll, after all the holiday over-indulgences, so la Grenouille didn't object when I proposed we go pay a visit and homage to Vincent van Gogh's, and his brother Theo's tombs in the graveyard at Auvers sur Oise, just north of Paris. They both died young, 37 and 33 respectively, and in tragic circumstances. At least Vincent's paintings survived. I wonder what Vincent and Theo would think if they knew what the paintings sell for today.
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The adjacent tomb had a rose growing there, sending out runners above Vincent and Theo's headstones.
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The church at Auvers sur Oise was the subject for at least one magnificent painting, of which a print hangs on a lightpost behind the church. The original is in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris.
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55 comments:

The Pliers said...

Either you are just getting in from work or we are on the same "wee hours of the morning" schedule for blogging!

Stickup Artist said...

This is such an awesome post. To go "for a bit of a stroll" to this church, see the modest gravestones side by side, brothers in life and in death; it is a great thing indeed and beyond my wildest dreams. But dreams come true at the Magic Lantern Show! And I imagine they would be so shocked, they wouldn't know what to think.

Steve said...

What a beautiful resting place - so simple and so calm. A good resting place indeed.

Adam said...

I love Auvers sur Oise. It also helps that L'Isle Adam is close by!

mythopolis said...

Ah, wonderful. I was there for the 100th anniversary of Vincent's death (July, 1990). The film, Vincent and Theo, released earlier that year, was showing in the movie house in Auvers. After the movie, a procession of people carrying candles - and some with sunflowers - went up to visit his grave. Quite beautiful.

nathalie said...

Lovely idea to match Van Gogh's paintings and your photos of the same spot. Will you mind if I tell you Vincent's paintings are a thousand times more attractive ? Especially that summer view of the back of the church: green grass dotted with sweet flowers, blue skies, your harsh winter view just doesn't compare.

J'VEUX DU SOLEIL !

Mary Ann said...

I have a print of that painting--I picked it up in Paris years ago not knowing it's significance.

As always, lovely images!

TechnoBabe said...

When you show something on your blog from Paris that I had seen while there, it ignites my adventure sparkplug. The church photos are awesome, Owen. I like it when you and la Grenouille have an outing, your readers benefit from what you see when you are out and about. I too wonder what Vincent would think of the astronomical fame and fortune surrounding his work these days.

Nevine said...

This is such a lovely homage to the Van Goghs, Owen. I am an especial fan of Vincent Van Gogh. I do have three of his paintings on tapestries I bought while living in Belgium. I also visited the house where he lived in Belgium, for a while, in a small town named Cuesmes, just a couple of towns over from the small town we lived in. Oh, such torture... and such art born of the torture. I also wonder what Vincent would think of his artwork being sold for those outrageous sums. He certainly didn't survive to see the fruits of his labors. The sad fact is that not many artists do survive to experience that joy.

Thank you for sharing this lovely post, Owen. It was such a delightful way to start my morning... though sad. Still... in sadness... linger those flickers of light, no? :-)

Nevine

lgsquirrel said...

Another entertaining and educational post. Thanks.

Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...

This post is so touching with the photos, the poster, the story... did I say that your photos are fabulous? The close-ups of the rose hips, the gravesite, all!

I have not been to Auvers sur Oise, but just added it to the list. Vincent's art touched me at a young age and I was dreamy-eyed with mythopolis' account of the 100th anniversary.

Merci, Owen.
Genie

...louciao... said...

Fascinating to see the actual site contrasted with the painting. I remember the first time I stood in front of a Van Gogh, after years of loving his work through reproductions in art books. It was an electrifying experience: Such immense energy emanating from the small canvas.

Rio said...

I absolutely love this post---
the van gogh story such a tale of sorrow and with that a romantisism
of the man and his life's work.

Karine A. said...

C'est une belle idée de nous avoir invités à vous accompagner pour cette promenade hommage à ce grand génie.
Merci Owen

Elisa said...

Thank you for this! I think I almost visited there, on their graves.. I'm so happy that you found my blog!

Carla said...

HI Owen, great post on Van Gogh. I never knew where he was buried.. Great pics. Carla

Le Journal de Chrys said...

Il existe un livre me semble-t-il rassemblant la correspondance entre les deux frères....

Merci beaucoup pour ce billet et belle soirée à toi!!!

James said...

Something strange is going on. I attempted to comment on this post early this morning but there was no place to comment so I left the comment at the previous post and now I can't find it? Oh well C'est la vie. This was one of the places that I wanted to visit but I didn't have time.
I like these photos. The headstone shot is amazing.

Roxana said...

did you know Van Gogh had a blog?
here:

http://www.vangoghsblog.com/

though i see the Magic Lantern is not in his blogroll, hmmm - i think he would change this after this wonderful homage, if only he could find out about it :-)

Catherine said...

I assumed he was buried in the South - how interesting and yes what the apintings fetch today - greetings from mexico....I loved the play Vincent in Brixton a few years ago in london

Deborah said...

I can't listen to 'Starry, Starry Night' Owen, because I'll be awash. It's so sad, and so beautiful.

You found your perfect mate, didn't you? Invited to go and visit graves, and she hesitates not a second. I can just picture the two of you there, reflecting on the two Van Goghs. It's a nice image.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Beautiful photos!

Dee Newman said...

Owen, thanks for sharing with us your visit to Auvers sur Oise. On several occasions while I was in Paris, I've planned visits to Auvers and the grave site, but something always came up.

Have you ever been to Amsterdam to visit the Van Gogh Museum? If not, go. You will be glad you did.

Also, if you have not visited Claude Monet's home and garden in Giverny, go.

By-the-way, I was not surprised at all that you are a graduate of NOLS. I am pleased to know that we have a love for the wilderness in common.

the fly in the web said...

An odd coincidence...I've just reread A.S. Byatt's 'Still Life' with its sub theme of the two Van Goghs, and now up comes your post with its juxtaposition of photographs and reproductions.

Amy said...

I love seeing the real life church next to the paintings... I'm so happy to see that it is still around.

And beautiful photos by the way.

Owen said...

Dear Pliers,
You hit the nail on the head, I'm working the graveyard shift these days, getting home in the wee hours of the morning, doing a little blogging before hitting the sack, a good way to unwind and disconnect from the wired world of work.... While you are just starting your day I guess at that ungodly hour...
:-)

Owen said...

Hi Stickup,
To be able to step out and find places like this very nearby serves to remind me how lucky I am to be living here... which never would have happened were it not for a certain Grenouille who shyly caught my eye one night long ago... But then when I see all the incredibly beautiful places you are exploring, it makes me want to go spend some time in California... and so many other places. Guess I'm just a vagabond at heart.
:-)

Owen said...

Steve, I guess there are worse places to be resting. It's just a royal shame that he had to start resting there at age 37... just think of all he might have painted had he lived another 30 or 40 years...

Owen said...

Adam, right you are, I drove right be l'Isle Adam on the way to Auvers, and have even walked around in l'Isle Adam a while back, but not recently with a decent camera...

Owen said...

Mythop... Wow ! That must have been quite a day... would have loved to have seen that, but wasn't living in France yet at that point. I guess you belong then to a privileged fairly small number of people who took part in that ? Auvers is such a tiny town, I can't imagine there were more than a few thousand folks ?

Owen said...

Dear Nathalie,
I shall humbly crawl off and scratch a hole in the muddy ground here and bury my camera in it, for I fear I shall never produce anything as beautiful as what Vincent painted... I'd never looked at things that way, but now that you've shown me the light, I have no choice but to resign forever from this lonely business of producing shabby images...
:-)
:-)
(All of above said with big grin... of course none of our photos could ever pretend to compare themselves with even a scrap of canvas that Vincent touched his brush to...)

Owen said...

Mary Ann, I think it is one of his loveliest. But then how does one even begin to compare among his works to decide if some are more lovely than others. I hope your print is in a visible place... it is an inspiring work. What an intense vision of things he had !

Owen said...

Hi TechnoB., did you see the painting itself in the Musée Gare d'Orsay, or did you mean you made the trip out to Auvers sur Oise to see the church and the place where he lived there, perhaps the cemetery too, above the church ? When were you in Paris ?

Owen said...

Dear Nevine,
I suppose I would have guessed you might have a particularly soft spot for Vincent, hopefully your tapestries of his paintings are in a place where you can gaze at them at leisure... ah, but which ones ? Irises ? Starry Nights ? Haystacks ? Self Portrait ?

So terrible that Theo died less than a year after his brother... apparently of syphillis (?). When calamity strikes...

Owen said...

Lone Grey, you are assuredly most welcome... I'm sure you were looking at that big tangle of ivy as a good place for squirrels to hide in, a good place for burying some nuts too ?

The Sagittarian said...

wow, history so close to you, fabulous! I loved the photo of the rosehips with their witchy fingers outstreteched..classic beauty indeed.

Owen said...

Hi Genie, Auvers is an excellent place to add to an itinerary if one has the time and inclination, the church and the town around it are lovely. I enjoyed being there last week in the heart of winter, there was hardly anyone there. I suppose in the spring or summer there may be a lot more people, but well worth the trip to get there. Thank's so much too for these kind words !

Owen said...

Dear Lynne, too true, the difference between one of his paintings in the flesh and blood, versus in a book, is like night and day. How he infused so much totally intense energy into his paitings remains mysterious to me. It's as though he was wired into a high tension electric line and was almost ready to burst into spontaneous combustion at any second... all that energy went right through into the paint and brushstrokes. Even now, over a hundred years later, the paintings are still just as vibrantly electric as ever.

Can almost hear the bells ringing in the belfry there...

Owen said...

Rio,
Thanks so much for stopping by... it is an amazing story. How he managed to paint so prolifically while battling his demons; a mind boggling life. Now all is peace in the place where he rests...

Owen said...

Bonjour Karine, il n'y pas de quoi, je vous inviterais avec plaisir nous accompagner sur des promenades comme celle-ci... il y a tellement de choses a voir ici en France, en Europe en général, dans le monde finalement... on pourrait marcher toute une vie et ne pas voir toutes les choses qui méritent d'être vues...

J'aimerais bcp voir ta version en aquarelle, ou en huile, de l'église à Auvers...

Owen said...

Hei Elisa, so you've been to Paris then ??? Do tell more... Did you go to Auvers ? Or almost go there ?

The connections that happen in the blogosphere often amaze me, with just a few clicks one can travel all over the world. But I think it was thanks to Alberto Oliver that I found your blog, with a squirrel who greeted me, and asked me if I wanted to come look around Finland a little. Who can say no to a squirrel ?

Owen said...

Hi Carla, wonderful of you to drop in, I've been admiring your blog and photo website, bravo !

If in any small way this post, these photos may contribute to inspiring you to take a day trip to Auvers sur Oise to visit Vincent's resting place, the church, room where he lived for a while, then all is worthwhile.

Thanks so much for dropping in here to this obscure little blog...

Owen said...

Bonjour Chrys, je pense bien avoir vu un livre du leur correspondences ... maintenant ils n'ont plus besoin d'écrire, l'un à l'autre, ils se retournent un peu pour se mettre face à face, et ils chuchotent doucement entre frères, comme aux jours quand ils étaient tout petit, dans un lit en Hollande quelque part...

Owen said...

Hi James !
I don't know what happened with the comments link when you looked and it wasn't there, I guess Google had a little bug or something, but seems to be ok now. I swear I didn't turn the comments off or anything, I haven't gone near those parameters in a while. Although sometimes I think about turning on the comment moderation, as I'm getting a lot of spam comments, fortunately they go straight to the spam locker, but they still have to be deleted from there.

I do have moderation on for posts older than four days, so I won't miss comments that may come in on earlier posts. Once in a blue moon someone comments on a much older post, I enjoy seeing them, so that's why your comment on the post below this one didn't appear right away, but it's there now...

Anyway, guess you'll just have to come back to France then... I imagine Auvers sur Oise isn't the only place on your list of things you wanted to see but didn't have time to ?

Loved your invisible man on Something Sighted...

Owen said...

Hi Roxana !
No, I didn't know that van Gogh had a blog, but I guess that's proof that there is another dimension for the departed, and if they can get back to communicate with us through a rift in the blogosphere, well, that's pretty wonderful...
:-)
I'll go and take another look, I took a very quick look, and it would appear there is some serious art discussion going on there...

Stay warm !

Owen said...

Catherine, I guess all is relative, to people in England, Paris is "the South" perhaps... but he is buried north of Paris. Given all the millions and millions that people spend on his paintings, I'm surprised someone hasn't come along to pay for a more elaborate tombstone for him and Theo.

Owen said...

Dear Deborah, it is a beautiful song, prone to provoking strong emotions... and too true, I'm very very lucky to have found such a wonderful Grenouille who is willing to accompany me to places like this, even on a cold, grey, rainy winter afternoon... I could have done worse ! But then I guess I wouldn't have settled for less...
:-)

Owen said...

Daisy, Thank You ! It's been a while... Happy New Year to you.

New Years Eves just aren't the same any more, without the kind of concerts we used to get from Oakland or San Francisco or whatever...

Owen said...

Hey Dee,
Hope you will be able to get to Auvers on a future trip then; gives you something to look forward to... heck, if we had all been everywhere and done everything, then all we could blog about would be to say, "been there, done that"...

But yes, in fact I have been to the Van Gogh museum in Holland, it was out of this world ! And I've been to Giverny, a must, which isn't too terribly far from here either. I've also been to Vetheuil, another town where Monet did some fabulous work. In Washington DC, in the Phillips Collection, there is a lovely Monet "la Route à Vetheuil"...

Many thanks !

Owen said...

Hi Fly, ah, a little touch of serendipitous coincidence there, am not familiar with the book, but will keep an eye out for it...
Thanks !

Owen said...

Hey Amy, the church is remarkable well preserved, so hopefully it will still be around in a few hundred more years time. Guess it will last longer than we will...
:-)

Owen said...

Hi Saj ! You slipped in there while I was answering others, almost missed seeing your comment... ah, I'm so happy someone noticed the rosehips, I was quite taken with them; such bright colors for the middle of winter. Well, for some it's the middle of summer, but no matter, the days are already getting longer now, and yours shorter...
Be well !
:-)

Olga said...

Amazing post! Always wanted to visit places where he lived and worked. Thank you.

...louciao... said...

bells in the belfry, yes...and the bats!

pRiyA said...

I want to cry when I see the pictures here. Years and years ago on my only visit to Paris, I saw that painting at the Musee de Orsay. I remember walking back to see it again. It sparkled like a jewel. Now you've shown the actual church itself. First time I've seen it. Lovely.

Do you by any chance know what those trees are growing in front of the church? What are they called?