Berry’s Talk on Van Gogh Points to His Love of Nature

photo by Hal Gray
Author and Art Educator Carol Berry stands by one of her slides during her August 17 Greensboro Free Library talk on Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh

by Hal Gray, Community Journalist

GREENSBORO – Author and art educator Carol Berry gave an illustrated, Greensboro Free Library-sponsored talk August 17, on Dutch Master Vincent Van Gogh.

Berry focused especially on the painter’s love of nature, with many slides of his paintings of views of gardens in Arles, southern France, including slides of less familiar scenes than we have become accustomed to. Berry described Van Gogh, born in Holland in 1853, as growing up in a religious household surrounded by fields. His early paintings consisted of dark colors of still lifes and peasants, with whom he connected. His style differed from other painters because he didn’t romanticize the peasants but believed art should be truthful and not just a photo of life.

In 1886 he went to Paris where he was influenced by impressionist art and began using bright colors and different brush strokes. He moved to Arles in 1888 where he died in 1890, by what some authorities consider to have been suicide, at the age of 37. During this time, the most creative of his life, he would paint two paintings a day.

Much of his time was spent in a hospital and a monastery recuperating from seizures, where he painted mainly landscapes from the window in his room. In the photo accompanying this article, there is a peasant in a wheat field which resembles turbulent motion, the bushes (left) spring flame-like from the ground, and the sun is incredibly strong, the symbol of a creative force, an emblem of new life.

In one of his many letters to his brother Theo (from whom he received his primary financial support) he wrote “nature is dictating to me.” In his lifetime, he sold only one painting; several years ago one of his paintings sold for $86 million dollars.