Monet v.s. Van Gogh. Is it a competition? Paul Gauguin, one of their (also famous) peers thought so. The quote below is from The Met Museum website:
In November 1888, Van Gogh wrote: “Gauguin was telling me the other day – that he’d seen a painting by Claude Monet of sunflowers in a large Japanese vase, very fine. But, he likes mine better. I’m not of that opinion.”
Critics had earlier praised the “brio and daring” of Monet’s technique when he showed this still life, depicting sunflowers that grew along the pathway to his garden at Vétheuil, at the 1882 Impressionist exhibition.
For me, there is no competition. I find them both beautiful and interesting for different reasons. Monet’s sunflowers are softly idyllic and otherworldly, Van Gogh’s are harder edged, quirky, and less refined.
These two sunflower paintings perfectly illustrate that there are many ways of looking at the same thing. One is no more “good” or “bad” than the other, which is duality thinking and narrow, part of the problem in our world right now. They both demonstrate creativity. In fact, both artists were attempting to break out of the mold of what was deemed acceptable in their time.
Any renaissance requires taking a wider view, thinking outside of the box, breaking the rules. There are several definitions of renaissance. In fact, Monet and Van Gogh did not paint during the Renaissance art period, with a capital “R”. I am talking about the general definition:
A revival of or renewed interest in something. ORIGIN from French renaissance, from re- ‘back, again’ + naissance ‘birth’ (from Latin nascentia, from nasci ‘be born’).
We have become lazy thinkers, too inclined to follow the crowd and the consensus reality. Our world badly needs a renaissance in creative critical thinking, a broader perspective, a fresh way of looking at things. I’m sure both Monet and Van Gogh would concur. 😉
Claude Monet, “Sunflowers”, 1881
Vincent Van Gogh, “Sunflowers”, 1888
Artful Soul 2 | Monet © Susan L Hart 2019