The first time I saw an original Rembrandt was in the National Gallery in Washington, DC. I wept with emotion, I was so moved.
When I went to St. Petersburg, Florida, and visited the Salvador Dali museum, I also teared up. Almost every time I see a Renoir, Monet, Sargent, Morrisot, or Van Gogh, I get overwhelmed with emotion and the tears bubble up and start to drip down my face. Today was no different when I visited the De Young museum in San Francisco to see “Van Gogh, Guaguin, Cezanne, and Beyond” an exhibit visiting from the Museum d'Orsay.
I was at the De Young for the very first tour, the 7:30 AM time slot. Being the first group provided a rare opportunity of being able to breathe in and soak up the experience without many people bumping into you. It almost had a feeling as if this were a private viewing.
The first painting I saw was Renoir’s “Young Girls at the Piano.” I was filled with emotion, started to feel those emotions swell in me, and just stood there in awe. It was almost as if I could hear these young girl's conversation along with the piano notes. I was once again taken to another world that art sometimes provides.
John Singer Sargent’s portrait of the Spanish singer, La Carmencita, was absolutely breathtaking. It is a large portrait and stunning. This is one of those paintings you have to see in real life because no photo does it justice.
The exhibit also included some small study canvases of Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte”. I have seen the original in Chicago, so seeing these small study’s made me appreciate his work all that much more. The amount of planning and preparation to create his huge masterpiece could be seen in these small study canvases as he prepared to put all these little vignettes together to make the whole.
However, Van Gogh’s painting of his bedroom, for me, seemed to be the most powerful. It was this painting that seemed to be allowing us to peer in and see Van Gogh even more exposed than any of his other work.
When I saw this painting of Van Gogh's bedroom, it was as if I could see how he could not control this creative energy. It was as if that creative force comes whenever it wants and he knows he has to capture and use that energy immediately. He probably looked around and saw he had no subject; there was no model, he couldn't create a still life, and probably couldn't go outside to paint or knew the energy would flee before he could compose a subject outdoors. So, ror whatever reason, he had to paint what was sitting and staring right in front of him; his room.
Painting something so ordinary and banal allowed me to see more of who Van Gogh really was than any of his other work. I could almost feel how he knew and realized how creative energy works. He knew he had to immediately harness and use it, or lose it. So he chose to sit down and paint. As a result, we now have this little masterpiece and a little window into his use of the creative energy force; a simple painting of his surroundings.
There are other artists work in this exhibit, too, including Toulouse-Latrec, Paul Cezanne, Pierre Bernard and even a Picasso. It is a wonderful exhibit. Hope you can go see it.