A Case Of Rejection: Vincent Van Gogh and The Trends of the Time

Iris by Vincent Van Gogh

Iris by Vincent Van Gogh

It”s happened to any artist  who has ever stepped out of their studio with a piece of artwork for the public to see…  rejection!  or acceptance and/or validation…Some  folks like it, others hate it, and some just flat out refuse to even see any value in it.[ Much less want to spend their hard earned money on it.] But a true artist just keeps on keeping on…they have to create …it is in them to do.

  Thinking on that theme…. let”s consider  the painter Vincent Van Gogh…He was unique…but not popular at the time…His unseemly style was flat out rejected and laughed at by the critics of the day. In Vincent’s case, his method of painting was thickly applied pure pigment  laid on brick-like with a compulsive sincerity. His style, at first the butt of jokes and swift elimination from juried shows, stood out for its seemingly amateur crudeness and naiveté. After all the polished works of the Salon, Vincent’s efforts couldn’t be missed, they stood out like a sore thumb. In his novelty, Vincent was one of the artists  heralded as “the cult of the new.”

 He didn’t limit his subject matter…He painted landscapes, florals, boats, dreams, visions, struggles, had an appreciation of nature and composed visual narratives of his angst. Something for everyone. Yet no one was buying it… probably didn’t match their decor.

Looking  at his epic life story: Innocently, and by default, Vincent pioneered the benefits of poverty, failure,  thus “the Starving Artist Syndrome”  and He lived with  the suffering and reputation of being “mad”.  His tragic life and  genius has now been packaged and sold as a commercial enterprise.

 Years later…   Enter in  a  band of modern dealers and critics who promoted Vincent to a new breed of entrepreneurial collectors–who embraced his suffering and rejection as a reason for his talent… collectors who bought and convinced  others about  the worth of the tragic artist and his unique work …not because of the trends, but because of the paintings and the artists’ desire to paint how and what he wanted too…in spite of everything else. These visionaries who collected his work would go on to found great collections and place the artwork in public museums. Vincent’s work had crossed the line from rejection to infamey forever. 
An early death ensured a finite opus:  A small, interrupted supply of art insures rarity, dealer control and the potential for  resell…recognizable prints, posters, books, potholders, key-chains and mugs. This type of merchandise would insure that Vincent was granted the sort of familiarity that the average people can get their heads around. And as for the upscale and smart collectors…they watched as his Iris painting was one of the first to break into the record books as a  painting  that sold at auction for over a million dollars…

   I just wish he could have known what his future would look like . I am sorry that He never felt the warmth of acceptance or the comfort of money in his pocket. But I am thankful that He was mad enough to continue the work…regardless of the rejection and laughter. He persevered… and left the  gift of his genius for us. We are  enriched and educated by it. Thanks, Vincent ….How We  needed your  inspiration. 

      “I do not know myself how I paint it. I sit down with a white board before the spot that strikes me. I look at what is before my eyes, and say to myself, that white board must become something.” (Vincent van Gogh)

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