Simon Schama's Power of Art

Van Gogh

Season 1, Episode 6 of 8

Wheat Field with Crows (1890) - "Painting," wrote Van Gogh, "is the raft that can take us safely to shore after the shipwreck." Painting sometimes calms him. Slashing now comes with the brush; convulsive energy becomes translated into the surging of his loaded brush merciless insecurity and anguish throb in intensive, ecstatic colour. He is looking in a mirror, but it is as though he is painting from inside his head. However, painting can as easily sweep him up to the edge and over it. By the summer of 1890, there are no more self portraits; instead of levelling a brush at the reflection of his face, he levels a gun.

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