Lust for life.

In 1955/56 Actor Kirk Douglas portrayed the artist Vincent Van Gogh in the film “Lust For Life”, a movie based on Irving Stone’s biography of the same name, largely formed from the letters mailed between Vincent and his Brother Theo. Shot on location in Arles, France, co-starring Anthony Quinn in what he said was one of his most favourite characters and roles to play, Quinn himself an artist , though unfulfilled till later in life would of possibly played the role for free if needed. I have always liked Vincents work, i studied him open mindedly in university and gave talks on him in class, his life, drawings and paintings, a life that is not so straight forward, though intense, passionate and largely misunderstood!

Kirk Douglas’ portrayal as Vincent is memorable and the whole movies attention to detail is perfect, most definitely a favourite film of mine. “Lust for life” has been expressed by some as “evocative” and “uncompromising” perhaps qualities that Vincent himself ultimately in death possessed?

Kirk Douglas on location in Arles France during the shooting of the film.

I simply fall in love every time i watch a movie from the 1950’s filled with its Eastman colour, hues and tones that so aptly capture that period of such cinematic work. everything was low tech and hands on compared to the studios of today, though everything was used to the enth degree.

I can’t help but feel sadness and kinship with Vincent, obstacles that others set in his life, from failure as a minister in churchianity (yes the difference between true christianity and church based institutions.) as an art dealer, artist and lover. Vincent was misunderstood and awkward in some social settings it would seem, as opposed to the buffed out chest bellows and life style of his one time friend Paul Gauguin, as Gauguin would say “he (Vincent) a sensitive and i am savage!”

Quinn as Gauguin and Kirk having a drink & talking art.

Sadly, Vincent Van Gogh only ever sold one painting in his life time, that being “Red Vineyard at Arles.” It was not until his death that Van Goghs popularity and collectability would flourish and grow, his fame in the 20th century would know no bounds it would seem. Though in his life he was largely an oddity or unnoticed?

Red Vineyard at Arles. c.1888

Today Vincent’s painting  the “Portrait of Dr Gachet” commands a price of  in excess of $130 million, the one time owner Ryoei Saito, who is now deceased once said of the painting that it was his wish to be buried with the painting, though retracted such a statement from the outcries it recieved, Vincent is surely the man indeed, up there with Michangelo in our collective minds, ironically igored in life, but reverred and celebrated in death, what a stuffed up and deluded world indeed!

Don’t worry Vincent God still loves ya!


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Filed under Art, Movies

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