Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A pair of shoes

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)
A Pair of Shoes, 1886
Oil on Canvas, 37.5 X 45 cm
Location: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Wow, so I knew something would be around to finally posting my potentially favorite painting of all time. I sat down to write this blog entry with no specific art work in mind. Looked around the room for inspiration and a book on Heidegger caught my eye. I pop "Heidegger and art" into Google and not surprisingly come up with as the first hit, a wikipedia entry on Heidegger's Origin of a Work of Art. I scroll down the page and there is Van Gogh's A Pair of Shoes. Yes, I studied art theory at the graduate level but somehow I seemed to have either skipped (which I surely shouldn't be admitting) reading Origin or somehow missed the focus on this painting. Alas, I shall be reading it soon but despite the hurrah and writing about this particular painting I am happy to say that I fell in love with it on my own, without pointers to its perceived importance or the interest it held for a variety of philosophers.

The wonder of the internets, as I link through more information I come across what could possibly be one of the best exhibitions ever "Vincent van Gogh: Shoes" currently at the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud in Cologne, Germany. Currently! How splendid is the wonder of timing and little coincidences! If only I could get myself to Cologne. A recent post in Harper's Magazine online discusses the exhibition, with extensive quotes about the shoes from Martin Heidegger, Meyer Schapiro and Jacques Derrida.

All of this is well and good, but this is the kind of painting where I find no need for wordplay. Van Gogh painted a number of pictures of boots and shoes, all of which are rich and and alive and wrenching but this particular painting stands on its own. Oh how I want to go to Amsterdam! Both the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum have raised their awesomeness to me today!

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