‘When you see a Gauguin,’ writes Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker, ‘you think, This man is living in a dream world. When you see a Van Gogh, you think, This dream world is living in a man.’
Artists are supposed to be our designated crazies.
They lived oceans apart in the later days of the 19th century, Earp the gunslinger, Van Gogh the psychedelic sower.
From a distance, they could be brothers. At the moment I'm feeling a bit too boringly sane to editorialize further, but we can track their smokey trails in these two eloquent documents.
Notes from American Experience - Wyatt Earp on PBS:
‘What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though.’
J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield
Sometimes an image calls out for words. For a sculptor, a painter, a photographer, it could be the other way around.
Following the filigree of Facebook, fingers on keys like soles on a gallery floor, I come to this photo and catch myself longing. The caption offers no clues about sculptor or setting, only this:
WELCOME TO 2010
THE BEST AWAITS YOU
Profound ideas arise out of chaos. Madness. Risk.
‘The sower broadcasting his seed was an image that had been with him almost since he had become an artist. It stood for a painter - or an evangelist - sowing the seed of beauty and truth.’
Martin Gayford, The Yellow House: Nine Turbulent Weeks in Arles
Our culture is about success, ‘Rich & Famous’ our mantra. No matter how badly we screw up, a strong tenet of Western Civilization assures us ‘they’ will suddenly adore us (and regret ignoring our fledgling efforts) once they see we’ve succeeded (ie. we are rich & famous, yes!).
My mother’s standard answer when complimented on her cooking was, ‘I just use good recipes.’ As though, with the right recipe, tasty food just makes itself.