I’ve always loved Vincent van Gogh’s paintings. His psychedelic brush strokes instantly struck a cord with me the first time I encountered his work. Like countless others, I also believed I could relate to his struggles as an artist. I fell for the popular image—the iconic figure of the tortured artistic soul—which is no doubt a caricature of the man, a cartoon that has been (re)constructed and (re)presented to render him the poster boy for unrequited love, mental illness, and suicide. As I’ve matured I’ve learned to reject all such stereotypes as bullshit, no matter how romantically appealing they seem.
Several years ago I made a pilgrimage to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam to encounter the man’s genius firsthand. Sadly, I departed somewhat underwhelmed by the experience. The magic eluded me. The impact of his artistry got subsumed in the space with so much of its focus on selling reproductions and memorabilia of all kinds—from umbrellas to coffee cups. I don’t expect any museum to be a cathedral of austerity. I recognize it takes funds to keep the doors open, but I felt this was a case where commercialism sucked all of the oxygen out of the exhibit.
My admiration for the artist, however, remains undiminished. Over two decades ago, inspired by his work, I wrote this poem. But that’s not what this is about. Below I have posted a trailer for an amazing new film that brings Van Gogh’s work to life. As you will see, it goes far beyond typical animation to achieve something extraordinary. I’m trying to wait patiently for the release in 2017.