Saturday, April 2, 2011

van Gogh...and Ultrarunning


The Starry Night.  Image credit here.

Vincent van Gogh had a birthday this week, on Wednesday.  Born in 1853, this would be his 154th birthday.  Unfortunately for the art world and the rest of us, he only spend some 37 years alive on the planet, dying in 1890.

The connection to Ultrarunning is this: who among us who has had the occasion to run at night doesn't like--no, love--the joy of night running?  Doing something in complete safety that the rest of the world would practically be aghast at?  Enjoying the sheer physicality of using your body to run as it was intended to run, vast distances at a trot?  The silence, the solitude, the peacefulness?

And seeing the stars; for me, the icing on the cake, the awesome beauty and sense of infinite distances.

Several years ago the bride and I saw a traveling van Gogh exhibit in Washington, DC at the Smithsonian.  It was marvelous (I love to use that word!)

What struck me were several things:

--How many of the the paintings I recognized (a lot, and I'm no art expert)
--The vibrancy of the colors, especially some of the blues that he used
--The beauty of his flower paintings (irises, sunflowers, cherry blossoms)
--How his paintings had literal depth: his oils were heaped on, sometimes a quarter inch or more deep

Go see an exhibit if you can.  This image, one of the most famous in the world, is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.  I sense a NYC trip in my future.

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