Excerpted from Van Gogh by Pierre Cabanne, © 1961:

Vincent painted the wheat field three times during June; on other occasions he set up his easel in front of the cypresses.  “It is a splash of black in a sunny landscape, but is one of the most interesting black notes, and the most difficult to hit off exactly, that I can imagine.”  The cypress was for him the symbol of the countryside in Provence, he saw it as “the equivalent– and the antithesis– of the sunflower.”

The dagger of a cypress tree jutting into the sky is a common and recognizable feature in his work.  I had wondered what it represented to him.

Wizards and Artists

“No woman is old as long as she loves and is loved.”  ~Vincent Van Gogh in a letter to his brother Theo, quoted in Van Gogh by Pierre Cabanne, © 1961

which is very similar to

“A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others.”  ~The Wizard of Oz

but I’m not really a fan of either, because it removes control from the individual.  “Loving” is an action we can choose, “being loved” is out of our hands.

Why Come Back?

“Every time I meet William Burroughs, I feel I’m in the presence of a feisty corpse. As a living person he seems rather bored. I asked him if he would go to the moon. ‘Of course,’ he replied. ‘I’d go anywhere. I’d leave the solar system if they came to get me in a flying saucer.’ ‘Even if there is no coming back?’ I asked. He looked at me. ‘Why come back?'” ~Sylvere Lotringer, from Forget Foucault by Jean Baudrillard

I’ve never been asked if I’d go to the moon.  I’d like to converse with someone who introduced new topics like that.

My answer would be the same as his.


“I felt that he would either go mad or leave the Impressionists far behind. But I did not suspect that both these presentiments would prove correct.” ~Camille Pissarro on Vincent Van Gogh, quoted in Van Gogh by Pierre Cabanne, © 1961