Five Things I’d Ask Vincent van Gogh if he Were Alive Today
By Giuseppe Cafiero
Vincent van Gogh died on 29 July 1890, but his enduring legacy will long continue. The historian, academic and acclaimed author Giuseppe Cafiero has studied the painter’s life and times for more than a decade. Here, Cafiero reveals the questions he’d ask van Gogh if he was around today.
In the Hollywood movie, Night at the Museum, the resident docent Rebecca Hutman (played by Carla Gugino) is writing a thesis about Lemhi Shoshone guide, Sacajawea. Hutman’s research is exhaustive but some questions will always remain unanswered unless she had the opportunity of questioning her heroine face-to-face.
In that movie, Hutman’s dream comes true when Sacajawea comes to life. Sadly for me, my own dream of meeting Vincent van Gogh will remain just that – a dream. But should the impossible happen and I had the opportunity of questioning my hero, here’s what I’d ask:
- How did you value the light in your paintings and what does light mean to you, if anything?
- How did you manage to create that wonderful yellow that appears in the Sunflowers series and in so many more of your paintings?
- What emotions did you feel before commencing a new portrait?
- How did you feel when you were in the sun of the Midi?
- How did you play with the prospects?
And yes, before you ask, I’d also ask him about his ear.
Title: Vincent Van Gogh: The Ambiguity of Insanity
Author: Giuseppe Cafiero
An abrasive itinerary of the presence of women, the landscape and obsession. Such are the internal paradigms that went through the compelling life of the Post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh.
Not flesh and blood women, but the woman as a guide: Mrs. Jones, the woman as a mother; Kee Vos; Christine Hoornik of Siena; Margot Begemann. The Portrait-women such as Augustine Roulin and Madame Ginoux. And then the backgrounds, endless, unforgettable in this genius’s works: Isleworth, Amsterdam, le Borinage, Arles, St. Remy, Auvers-sur-Oise, where Vincent van Gogh spent his life trying to capture the colors, the atmosphere, the light.
The pain of finitude and his obsession with achieving redemption through art, with intimate and stormy religiosity, with brotherly love, with the French noon sun and, in short, with death. A hard-working and unwavering life where art interacted, in a painful gesture, with the iron will of a hand that never lost its way.
The life of a beloved and devoted man, silenced by the anguish and despair of creation, who could only find peacefulness when he found his own death.
Vincent Van Gogh: the Ambiguity of Insanity is a fictionalized biography and gripping novel of the life of the Nineteenth-Century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. The author, Giuseppe Cafiero, draws a psychological portrait of the Post-Impressionist painter through the women that marked his life and the cities in which he lived.
About Giuseppe Cafiero