Friday, November 21, 2008

"Closing time, you don't have to go home but you can't stay here"*

So here it is (finally!): the beginning of a follow-up to this post about Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers painting. You didn’t think I had forgotten, did you? Sometimes I just need a little time to ruminate/procrastinate before the literary genius is released.

Anyway, I finally visited the Yale University Art Gallery to see the special Van Gogh exhibit. When my husband and I arrived, we had some time to kill before out allotted appointment with The Starry Night, so we perused the African art, which I found to be very stereotypically...umm...phallic. Then we checked out the Asian art, which we found quite...umm...amusing. Okay, so Yale University is supposed to be one of the most prestigious colleges in the world and all that, but I couldn’t help but wonder about it when I examined a beautiful piece of Asian pottery whose label was comprised of a time period and the word "Pitcher."

I thought Maybe this label is just an anomaly. Perhaps very little was known about this piece when it was found, so they kept it simple. But then we came across another piece of pottery that was described as "Vase" and another one called "Bowl." In fact, the more pieces we looked at the more we realized that this labeling-of-the-obvious was the standard. My husband and I speculated that perhaps this tagging system stemmed from some sort of project done by the freshmen in Intro to Art 101 (or maybe it was spearheaded by the local kindergarten class!). In an effort not to get kicked out of the art gallery for excessive giggling (Why am I always worrying about being kicked out of art galleries?), we moved on to the Modern and Contemporary Art section.

This area is home to my very favorite Van Gogh painting The Night Café. The bright reds, greens, and yellows are almost harsh to the eyes; the colors both contrast and compliment the lonely, ghostly themes of the painting. At first glance, the painting is simple, but the more you look at it, the more you notice the odd proportions and angles of the room and its contents.

The people are hunched over. The ceiling lamps mimic stars, but they don’t have the same warmth of the stars in Van Gogh’s night skies. The bouquet at the far end of the room is in full bloom, but behind it the table is full of amber bottles of liquor. The clock reads that it’s very early in the morning as if the inhabitants of the painting have nothing worth going home to. The drape in the back doorway falls in the shape of an eerie figure, who is watching—maybe judging—the others in the room. I could go on forever about this painting (clearly I’ve spent way too much time thinking about it).

It was to this standard of (over) thinking that The Starry Night was held. Alas, I must leave you with a cliffhanger here as I ruminate/procrastinate a little more! I know, the suspense created by impressionist art is overwhelming you, isn’t it?