Working Until the End

In true artist fashion’ Vincent Van Gogh worked until the time that he died. The works at the end are said by many to be a real paradox to his life and his previous works. Like he had for the months before’ Vincent kept working at a rapid pace’ painting through the pain’ the madness’ and the fleeting moments of peace. These final works are often seen as a sort of “path to peace” for Vincent’ and perhaps they were.

The Church at Auvers is sort of a haunting painting from this time. Of course’ the church is captured beautifully’ but there is something that is just a bit unsettling about this piece. Perhaps this was done in one of Van Gogh’s darker hours’ the use of dark colors sets a sort of ominous tone’ and you can’t help but think this reflects the last months or even weeks of Van Gogh’s life as this painting was done in June of 1890. While it’s a beautiful painting’ it does not capture hope and light like so many of Vincent’s earlier pieces did.

The White House At Night is a painting done around the same time as The Church at Auvers yet it is substantially different.

Again Van Gogh uses the yellows and light he is known for. This seems to be a painting done in a more hopeful phase’ one where he could either see out of the darkness’ or maybe this was just painting his path for peace. Regardless’ it’s nice to see that Van Gogh was able to elicit some of the techniques that he was known for’ and were so beautiful’ even when he was struggling so near the end. The White House at Night is another undeniably beautiful piece by Vincent Van Gogh in his final days.

During this time there were many intense paintings done by Van Gogh’ perhaps one of the less famous’ but equally as deep is The Little Stream which is a dark painting of a stream and fields around. The painting seems to have a very dark message’ perhaps a reflection of Vincent’s state of mind’ or the way he remembered a specific stream. The stream seems to have a sort of ominous feel’ though the painting is very beautiful. The Little Stream was done in June of 1890 when it is known that Vincent was having wild fluctuations in his mental state’ so where these images come from is anyone’s guess. Though the work is beautiful’ it really makes the observer wonder from what perspective Vincent was truly painting.

Another outstanding piece of work done during this time of many works was Wheat Field Under Clouded Sky, which sort of depicts a meeting of the heavens and the earth the way the clouds come down to the grass and meet with it. As always’ Van Gogh’s use of color is magnificent’ and you almost feel pulled into this painting. This painting was done in June of 1890 as well’ and seems to fit well with the other pieces during this time. Of course’ knowing the tragic way in which Van Gogh died makes speculation gloomier’ but there is undoubtedly an unsettling feeling when you take a look at Wheat Field Under Clouded Sky and many of the other magnificent works done during this period.

It is Wheat Field with Crows that seems to get the most attention from this period of time’ as many believe it was Van Gogh’s last painting’ though it was not. Many believe that this was his last piece because of the stormy skies’ as well as a wheat field sort of churning with crows rising above. It’s been said that Wheat Field with Crows is a suicide note put on canvas’ and perhaps it was in a way. Maybe the stormy skies and churning wheat fields are a valid interpretation of his mental state during this time. Yet’ the path through the wheat field seems to offer hope’ a peaceful passage. Though this painting has always been hotly debated on many fronts’ it remains one of the most beautiful paintings done near the end of a life that simply was too short.

So’ if it wasn’t Wheat Fields with Crows that was his final painting’ what was it? Daubigny’s Garden is said to likely be the last work that Vincent Van Gogh did. The painting doesn’t give any real insight into his thoughts or even his state of mind’ though many make varying interpretations. The painting is peaceful’ maybe Van Gogh had finally found peace’ and that is why he decided to take his life. Many contend the weaving clearing is a path to peace’ or it’s possible that the small gate on the right hand side of the painting is somehow symbolic. Unfortunately’ no painting will ever really let us know his true thoughts at the end.

These paintings toward the end appear to be as erratic in style and color as Vincent Van Gogh’s mental state’ though they are some of his most beautiful. Perhaps it is his fluctuating use of color and symbolism that makes the paintings even more beautiful to us. It’s so easy to speculate what his paintings mean because we know the way it all ended’ we now know how tragic his life of searching for love and acceptance was’ so we may read too much into his work. Each person that stands before a Vincent Van Gogh painting feels different things’ and may interpret it entirely differently than the person standing beside him or her. It’s possible that is exactly what Van Gogh was trying to achieve. If so’ he’s done a marvelous job indeed.

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