Today we watched scenes from the 1956 version of Lust For Life with Kirk Douglas as Vincent Van Gogh & Anthony Quinn as Paul Gauguin. The scene numbers and titles we watched were: 11-The Force to Work, 12-Artists of Paris, 13-Brotherly Impasse, 14-Meeting Gauguin, 23-Shattered Friendship, 24-Date with a Razor, 30-No Way Out, 31-Death in Golden Light. This movie is an adaptation of Irving Stone’s book, Lust for Life, which, by the way, is perhaps the very first “art book” I ever read. It apparently had a profound effect on my life. Here is an interesting review I found.
We went from humorous cliches to dramatic angst at warp speed. In fact, I was a bit concerned I might’ve over played my desire to show what I think might be the most dominate social narrative assigned to art and artists by the general public – the crazed, maniacally-driven, angst-ridden, ear-slashing, penniless, unemployable, suicidal, outsider. I realize how over-the-top this statement is, but as I used the dictionary on my computer to check the spelling of penniless, guess what came up – penniless: adjective: Van Gogh died penniless DESTITUTE, poverty-stricken, impoverished, poor, indigent, impecunious, in penury, moneyless, necessitous, needy, bankrupt, insolvent, without a cent (to one’s name), without a sou (my favorite), etc. What a coincidence, Van Gough being used in a definition of penniless. Van Gogh as a contemporary commodity is arguably the most successful of all time.
A useful conversation to have later when you become more informed would involve Van Gogh and the notion of “outsider art”.