Thursday, December 06, 2007

Ministry Through Brush and Stars

There is an exhibit of 20 of Vincent Van Gogh's letters to a younger friend at the Morgan Library in New York City. They demonstrate that even near the end of his life when his mental illness drove him to take his own life he had extended periods of lucidity and insight. Of course this was the period when he was both prolific and highly creative in his output. I will quote from the National Public Radio review of the exhibit.

At several points, Van Gogh writes about his desire to do a starry, night sky, "just as I shall paint a green meadow studded with dandelions," he writes, "but how to arrive at that?" "But when will I do the starry sky, then, that painting that's always on my mind? Alas, alas, it's just as our excellent pal Cyprien says, in En ménage by J. K. Huysmans, the most beautiful paintings are those one dreams of while smoking a pipe in one's bed but which one doesn't make. But it's a matter of attacking them nevertheless, however incompetent one may feel vis-à-vis the ineffable perfections of nature's glorious splendors." Of course, Van Gogh eventually overcomes these problems and goes on to paint some of the most celebrated night scenes in the history of art.

In fact within months Vincent had painted the night sky and Starry Night (above) was painted the next year.

Van Gogh was a spiritual person and actually trained for the ministry before being rejected by the Dutch Reformed Church. He was just too intense and erratic. His spirituality shines forth in his paintings and we are probably better off for his life as an artist rather than as a pastor.

His work has certainly ministered to me.

If you get away from the lights of town during this season, take a look at the night sky and consider the Creator and the creative genius of Vincent Van Gogh.


Nancy said...

There is always more to look at in the night sky too and those just north of us were fortunate to see it last night. Apparently there was a spectacular display of the northern lights last night and could be seen by a colleague near Orono. We don't have to travel far. I always find the lights to be mystical and as a child was fascinated by them.

lionlamb said...

I'm so sorry I missed them! Both of us lived in Northern Ontario, Nancy, and I have such fond memories of displays of the Aurora Borealis.