Vincent Van Gogh’s painting Irises of 1889 has gained international attention for its beauty. Often described simply as a study, Irises seems to capture the essence of life through vivid colors and a mysterious sense of movement. Despite its ability to captivate human emotion, it has received comparatively little attention than works such as A Starry Night, a more telling reflection of the artist’s inner state. Looking deeper into the artist and the piece though, we realize that it is not as simple as a beautiful painting of a flower bed. Irises, completed near the end of Van Gogh’s life, is a portrait of the artist’s journey. Within it we see the many influences on Van Gogh in his search for harmony and how he believed that nature, and the artistic study of nature, could bring harmony into his life.
My presentation will look at the evolution of Van Gogh’s work concerning his fascination with nature and how it is reflected in Irises. Connections can be made between Irisesand the en plein air and nature oriented works of impressionist artists. Van Gogh was similarly inspired by Japanese prints which he envisioned as creations of a culture already in harmony with nature. Looking at Van Gogh’s personal letters, it is evident that he is engrossed in the issues of harmony and nature and that he wishes to manifest this in his lifestyle, as well as in the very style and form his art takes.
Lena Astilli, ’07 Santa Fe, NM
Sponsor: Christina McOmber