Vincent Van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890). Starry Night Over the Rhône (La nuit étoilée), 1888. Oil on canvas. 0.73 x 0.92 m. Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France.
As a teenager, Van Gogh was my gateway into the world of art, and he remains my favorite painter. This particular painting quickly became one of my favorite paintings by my favorite painter. I think my need to champion the underdog and embrace the-lesser-known made me champion this work over the other super-famous, neck-tie-and-coffee-mug-adorning, but nonetheless completely awesome Starry Night that Van Gogh painted a year later.
Last October, we visited my wife’s awesome aunt who lives in the Oakland Bay area, and she took us to the De Young Museum in San Francisco to see the exhibition Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne and Beyond: Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay. As we entered the gallery where the Van Goghs were displayed, lo, here was one of my most longtime favorite paintings, something I thought I would have travel to Europe someday to see. I didn’t even know I was going to get to see it on my little California trip, so that made the experience even better. In my opinion, seeing a Van Gogh in person totally lives up to the hype, and is unlike anything else, even the paintings of other great artists. Still, I couldn’t resist trying in vain to capture and commoditize the magic, so I bought a small print of the painting and it is propped up on a bookshelf in our living room right now, where I look at it all the time.