Vincent's Yellow

a[n] [auto]biography and a love story.


At the end of his life, Vincent van Gogh painted seventy paintings in seventy days. That’s right. The daughter of the innkeeper in Auvers told us that his schedule was quite regular: he woke up bright and early and went out to paint, came back to the inn for lunch, spent the afternoon making the finishing touches on the same painting, had dinner, went back up to his room to write a letter and fell asleep. And these were not some slap-dash paintings.

Church at Auvers, 1890.

Church at Auvers, 1890

Mademoiselle Gachet in the Garden, 1890.

Mademoiselle Gachet in her garden at Auvers-sur-Oise, 1890

Tree trunks in the grass, 1890.

Tree trunks in the grass late (April 1890)

Vincent’s time in Auvers-sur-Oise was a period of most passionate productivity, it is one of the most incredible outpourings of all Art History. Were you trying to cure yourself with painting, Vincent, which you said calmed your mind? Or were you trying to prove something before you finally gave up on this world? I’m not sure I’ll ever have a satisfactory answer…

What I do know is that I unwittingly share this time with you. I am about to embark on a period of intense productivity myself – teaching theater to children all day and rehearsing at night – understanding my craft from every possible angle and, I’m sure, learning many new things. My choreographer said to me the other day, “so the whole play is like one big crescendo, right?” I agreed heartily with her. It is also what the making of this play will be from now until opening night.

Unwittingly, I arranged my rehearsal period to begin and end within the same dates as your seventy days. Your first letter from Auvers is dated May 20th, my first rehearsal, 120 years later, was May 22nd. And opening night is the anniversary of your death, when your soul finally left its body…

But my, how you linger in so many other forms. I never can get over how you keep popping up everywhere.

All my love to you today, readers. May you feel as cosmically entwined as I do, for as Vincent wrote July 10, 1888:

That rakes up the eternal question: is life visible to us in its entirety, or before we die do we know of only one hemisphere?

Painters — to speak only of them — being dead and buried, speak to a following generation or to several following generations through their works. Is that all, or is there more, even? In the life of the painter, death may perhaps not be the most difficult thing.

Mon, June 28 2010 » Personal, Research, Theater piece

2 Responses

  1. Timmy Caldwell June 28 2010 @ 23:26

    There’s no way I can ever understand what it was like for him to create seventy works of art in seventy days.

    I suspect, through your play, I will get close though…

  2. Teresa June 29 2010 @ 23:33


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