Vincent van Gogh in Saint-Remy and Auvers

I came into possession of a book which depicts and describes the works done by Van Gogh after he left Arles and went to stay at a facility in Saint-Remy to be cared for. Most of his works from that time are heavily influenced by the spaces he observed from his room or the grounds of the facility. While I chose paintings for this post, there are also a plethora of drawings in the collection as well.

Below is his painting referred to as “Country road with Cypress and Star” and his traditional heavy handed marks, which blur the line between a drawing and a painting, are effective in seemingly showing details that would be closer to the viewer in space and then they proceed to become less harsh as the painting moves further into space. The use of the road as a physical landmark that leads you from foreground to background is what makes full use of space in this work. One follows the road to the back middle and the cypress trees behind the small cottage throw you up into his night sky and beyond.


Below is another painting from entitled” Enclosed Field with Ploughman” and I think it attempts and succeeds to show us such an expanse of space. For me it is how he uses his marks to created concise movement in some areas that lead you off and away into the distance while other areas are more haphazard and created the illusion of detail that is closer and more apparent. His skies also are extremely important in creating a sense of space, using his mark making to show rolling clouds that always lead off the canvas and never are wholly contained within the painting. Finally his windmills help create the illusion of receding farther and farther back help add to the wide and open feeling in this painting. The one in the middle sets the far away point but then a smaller one to the side shows us how far back he can see from his vantage point and only goes to create miles between the viewer and the hills in the distance.


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