Vincent's Yellow

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

Why Yellow?

Vincent wrote of living in Southern France:

“There is a sun, a light that for want of a better word I can only call yellow, pale sulphur yellow, pale golden citron. How lovely yellow is! And how much better I shall see the North!

Oh! I keep wishing for the day when you will see and feel the sun of the South!” (c. 13 August 1888)

Paul Gauguin described the room Vincent had prepared for him there, in the Yellow House (as they called it):

“In my yellow room, sunflowers with purple eyes stand out on a yellow background; they bathe their stems in a yellow pot on a yellow table […] And the yellow sun that passes through the yellow curtains of my room floods all this fluorescence with gold; and in the morning upon awakening from my bed, I imagine that all this smells very good.

Oh yes! he loved yellow, this good Vincent.” (January 1894)

Yellow is also a symbol of joy, warmth, and the life-giving energy of the sun. Possibly the most important aspect to this project is the reframing of Vincent’s life and work as the success it is, instead of as a tragedy.

Vincent’s friend Emile Bernard wrote to the critic Albert Aurier about Vincent’s wake:

“On the coffin, a simple white drapery and masses of flowers, the sunflowers that he so loved, yellow dahlias, yellow flowers everywhere. It was his favorite color, if you remember, symbol of the light that he dreamed of finding in hearts as in artworks.” (August 1890)