I happened to have a pass for Van Gogh museum from Eurosys conference which was held in Amsterdam in April 2014. This was an incentive for me to visit this museum as I have not visited a single museum in Amsterdam so far. So finally I happened to visit it with another visitor today.
Van Gogh was a celebrated artist who created a massive art collection in just a span of 10 years, as he died an early age death at the age of 37.
While looking at the paintings I was constantly thinking of comparison of his painting style with other modern artists such as Picasso, Mattisse who brought their own style of art to modern art genesis.
I am more and more getting interested in artists and their creations, since my Paris visit and the old artist in me has been re-incarnated since then. For those who do not know, I used to do a lot of paintings and even have a gold medal in All India level art competition during my teenager years. But then I stopped painting, and now I think that old frame of reference is coming back in terms of my photography. My photography is well appreciated and is also paying me back as I sell my photographs to book publishers, stock photography sites etc. More here ... www.flickr.com/photos/mrunalg
The point here I want to stress is about Artists and Scientists. While I am an avid admirer of art, the sole point of discontent is where it gets used. An art is still a form of an entertainment, enjoyed by those who can afford time and money for it. It does not create a true value in terms of solving fundamental human problems which Science does. An artists is successful only if he is able to get a patron who enjoys the art creations, that was the case at least in old days, now there is Government support in some rich countries. In developing countries like India, there is a clear distinction between the class of society which enjoys Art, design and related things. This is always high class society who can afford it. A general class is always busy in their mundane life and chaos that they never have time or appreciation towards it. The difference with developed country population is in terms of accessibility of art to general population as the level of inequality does not exist to a large extent, so the concept of class does not exist. So art divides societies in countries like India. The artistic liberty which many artists seek for does not exists, because much of the society is still in the shadows of age old customs and traditions and the free culture and appreciation goes missing.
There were plenty of people in the museum. There was plenty of merchandise on sell right from Van Gogh tee-shirts to comic books. So Van Gogh had been made a commodity, his paintings were mass produced on canvas by printing them and they were for sale. I always wondered what is the best way to give back this kind o royalty to a dead person, because he rightfully deserves it, because most of these artists die very poor. Could there be some way to have Van Gogh get a share of all this fame so that he could actually enjoy it literally?
Another aspect of thinking was out of so many visitors how many get the feeling that "Oh, this is the kind of legacy I would like to leave behind when I would die ..." Am I working towards it? What do I leave behind and why would people remember me?
Another random thought while observing the nude women paintings were, the relation of artists with nude women. Most artists paint nude women, because the human body is an ultimate sculpture with all kind of curves, shapes, sizes and postures. Nikola Tesla the man behind AC power once said, "The women's role in an Artists life is very important. An artists draws inspiration from women around him. However, the role of women in a scientists life is very questionable. The kind of work a scientist needs to do has little room for inspirational angle from women's presence perspective. Women in most of the cases act as a source of distraction...." Tesla was a celibate and he never married, though there plenty of rich beauties dying to be in his company always....
Another random thought was the role of Technology in museums. Museums are many times used as a source of introduction to a new culture. However, the conventional mediums like text, audio need not engage the visitor during his visit. What if the visitor actually gets to feel the context in real life while looking at a sculpture, so some kind of virtual reality to let users get a real life feel to identify with the context. I believe tomorrow's museums would have such technologies embedded in them.
So all these mixed feelings came back while visiting this museum. It was a nice reflection of lot of thoughts that run through my head always while visiting such places ....
Here is an interesting resource covering Van-Gogh's work and related material. Do have a look if interested. https://www.artsy.net/artist/vincent-van-gogh