Monday, August 11, 2008

Self-Doubt, cont.

Reading about a Van Gogh exhibit currently running at the Yale University Art Library (“Van Gogh’s Cypresses and The Starry Night: Visions of Saint-Rémy”) got me combing through my journal for reflections on my visit to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam last year. Here’s an excerpt that relates to switching careers:

What surprised me most about this collection was Van Gogh’s self-doubt, the fact that at the end of his relatively short life, this great artist still considered himself a failure.

I was also struck by the fact that Van Gogh was initially a preacher. Only after becoming disillusioned with that career path did he turn to painting. Shunning formal training, he hoped to give an original voice to the world—-painting as preaching, so to speak. And what an original voice he had!

Like Van Gogh, many of us are plagued with self-doubt. But who among us does not have an original voice?

Click "Play" to hear Don McLean's song “Vincent,” inspired by Van Gogh’s painting La Nuit Etoilee, or Starry Night, (Saint-Remy, 1889). A slide show of Van Gogh's paintings accompanies the video.

Note: The painting above, at right, is a Self-Portrait of Van Gogh, dedicated to Paul Gauguin (1888, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University).

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