Monet v.s. Van Gogh. Is it a competition? Paul Gauguin, one of their (also later famous) artist 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.
Monet’s is softly idyllic and otherworldly, Van Gogh’s harder edged, quirky and less “refined prettiness”. See my Van Gogh post from several days ago. For me there is no competition. I find them both beautiful and interesting, for different reasons.
And 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 “acceptable” in the world of art in their time.
And 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. Our world badly needs a renaissance in creative and critical thinking, a broader perspective, a fresh way of looking at things. And we need it now.
Claude Monet, “Bouquet of Sunflowers”, 1881
Artful Soul 2 © Susan L Hart