The First Art Newspaper on the Net Established in 1996 United States Friday, October 31, 2014


Wallraff-Richartz Museum in Cologne Shows Painting by Vincent van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh, Ein Paar Schuhe, 1886, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.
COLOGNE.- Battered, shapeless, down-at-the-heel – that’s the appearance of the most hotly discussed shoes in art history: a pair of black boots that Vincent van Gogh painted in 1886 in Paris – without ever suspecting the heat of the philosophical debate he was about to trigger. To this day, philosophers and art historians look at this painting and argue over the function of art, the value of interpretation and the nature of existence. It all began in 1936 when Martin Heidegger saw the painting in Amsterdam and wrote an essay entitled “The Origin of the Artwork”. Over the following years, scholars and thinkers such as Meyer Schapiro, Jacques Derrida, Ian Shaw and Stephen Melville have expressed their views on van Gogh’s shoes. The Wallraf brings the painting from the Van Gogh Museum to Cologne to open up this fascinating scholarly inquiry to all and everyone.

1886, Paris. Vincent van Gogh had just moved to the French capital city. He is 33 years old, hoping to become part of the avant-garde art scene. To begin with, he studied at the studio of Fernand Cormon, a well-known painter at that time. However, van Gogh painted the work you can see at home, in his own studio in Montmartre. It shows (kleine Spannungspause) – a pair of old, worn shoes.

When Vincent showed his fellow students the picture, their comment was "bizarre“. Was this something to decorate the wall of a dining room? Absurd!

Why did van Gogh decide to paint this earthy everyday subject? He never explained it himself. For many art historians, this work is just a study. That would certainly be feasible. After all, Van Gogh was experimenting with colours. Taking the shoes as his subject certainly allowed him to work with brown colour tones. In this painting, he has interspersed the brown with green and crème coloured accents. The oil paint was applied quickly and in thick impasto, almost coarsely, with clearly visible brush stokes.

But the small painting seems to have a far deeper meaning. Nearly 50 years after it was painted – when van Gogh was long dead – a dispute broke out between philosophers and art historians that still continues today and is all about the really big issues for example, what is the function of art and the nature of being. And we'd like to give you an outline of this dispute.

The first to enter the arena was no lesser figure than the philosopher MARTIN HEIDEGGER. He saw the painting in an exhibition of van Gogh's works in 1930 in Amsterdam. It made a deep impression on him. Five years later, he gave a lecture at the University of Freiburg on art, building on the ideas in his main work "Sein und Zeit“ – Being and Time. In the lecture, he took van Gogh's painting Shoes as an example to explain what the essence or an art work is and also what it isn't:

" […] But then is it out opinion that this painting by Van Gogh depicts a pair of peasant shoes somewhere at hand, and is a work of art because it does so successfully? Is it our opinion that the painting draws a likeness from something actual and transposes it into a product of artistic .... production? By no means.

The work, therefore, is not the reproduction of some particular entity that happens to be at hand at any given time; it is, on the contrary, the reproduction of the things' general essence.“

When we use objects in everyday life, we can recognise their serviceability, but their essence, which Heidegger also referred to as the "thingness of things“, remains hidden to us. However, it is revealed in an art work. A work of art may be a thing among other things, yet is it also a thing of use – a Gebrauchsding – and not just "equipment“ or "Zeug", in Heidegger's terms. Instead, it is precisely the functionlessness of a work of art that reveals the hidden essence of truth. At least, Heidegger believed that by looking at van Gogh's Shoes, he experienced the essence of the shoes of a peasant woman. Heidegger wrote:

"From the dark opening of the worn insides of the shoes the toilsome tread of the worker stares forth. In the stiffly rugged heaviness of the shoes there is the accumulated tenacity of her slow trudge through the […] ever-uniform furrows of the field […] This equipment is pervaded by uncomplaining anxiety as to the certainty of bread, the wordless joy of having once more withstood want, the trembling before the impending childbed and shivering at the surrounding menace of death.[…]

But perhaps it is only in the picture that we notice all this about the shoes. The peasant woman, on the other hand, simply wears them. . […]

The equipment quality of equipment was discovered […], but only by bringing ourselves before van Gogh’s painting. This painting spoke. In the vicinity of the work we were suddenly somewhere else than we usually tend to be.“

Heidegger published his ideas on van Gogh's Shoes and art in an essay entitled "The Origin of the Work of Art“. In 1964, that essay appeared in an English translation – and prompted the American art historian MEYER SCHAPIRO to question Heiddeger's reading of the painting.

Schapiro put forward the thesis that we can only understand the significance of the painting by establishing what van Gogh's intentions were in painting it. Heidegger's approach was certainly emotional and moving, but otherwise it is an "error", a "fanciful description" that is "not sustained by the picture itself “. Heidegger has projected into the work his own ideas of "the primordial and earthy“. According to Schapiro, the problem begins when Heidegger claims these are the shoes of a peasant woman – a claim Schapiro rejects:

"They are the shoes of the artist, by that time a man of the town and city. “

According to Schapiro, van Gogh was attracted by the personal nature of the shoes, the individual form they had acquired from being worn:

"His own shoes he has isolated on the floor and he has rendered them as if facing us, and so individual and wrinkled in appearance that we can speak of them as veridical portraits of aging shoes.“

For van Gogh, who went barefoot for most of his life, shoes had a particular significance. They symbolised the idea of life as a pilgrimage. In Schapiro's view, in panting this portrait of his shoes van Gogh has simultaneously created a symbolic portrait of himself. For Schapiro, the signature at the top left of the painting, clearly standing out in red paint, is also the title of the work: "Vincent“.

The fact that van Gogh may not have actually walked that much in these shoes cannot shake Schapiro's interpretation. After all, They may be the shoes reported by François Gauzi, a fellow student, who noted:

"At the flea market, [ Vincent…] had bought an old pair of clumsy, bulky shoes-peddler’s shoes- but clean and freshly shined. They were fine old clonkers, but unexceptional. He put them on one afternoon when it rained and went for a walk along the old city walls. Spotted with mud, they had become interesting. […] Vincent faithfully copied his pair of shoes.“

Let's just take a moment to review. As far as Heidegger is concerned, the painting expresses a special truth normally hidden to us in everyday life; Schapiro, however, reads the work as a symbolic self-portrait of the artist. But they both agree on one thing – both think it's important to know who the shoes originally belonged to. A peasant woman – says Heidegger. No, says, art historian Meyer Schapiro the shoes belonged to a man in the city, namely van Gogh himself.

And now, enter the third figure in this dispute – the French philosopher JACQUES DERRIDA. He takes issue with both positions, rejecting the dichotomy of city or countryside, man or woman. Instead, Derrida argues that such pairs of opposites form the structure in all western thought. His aim is bring down that structure – or as he terms it, to deconstruct it. He responds to the dialogue between Heidegger and Schapiro with a polylogue, an interlacing mode of discussion with many voices. The voices discuss the texts by Heidegger und Schapiro and, while they do, they carefully observe the painting. In this process, certainties seem to disappear, doubts arise: Is it really a pair of shoes at all? Is it a pair and not just a couple of shoes? Is it really a right and a left shoe? Derrida notes:

"- I find this pair, if I may say so, gauche. Through and through. Look at the details, the inside lateral surface; you'd think it was two left feet. Of different shoes. And the more I look at them, the more they look at me, the less they look like an old pair. More like an old couple. Is that the same?“

One shoe appears to be longer and has a raised heel, while the other is flat. And then there are the laces –on one shoe, the lace appears to be threaded through parallel eyelets, while the other lace winds back and forth around studs on the outside of the shoe, as if it was a boot. In every detail, it seems as if van Gogh has presented us with an unresolved puzzle. It's amazing, Derrida says, that Heidegger and Schapiro could erect such grand edifices of interpretation on such obviously shaky ground. Both have projected themselves into the painting and taken contrary positions. For Derrida, the reason why Schapiro takes issue with Heidegger's position so vehemently can best be understood by Schapiro's own background – as a European Jewish immigrant to New York, he was reacting to a recognized German philosopher who had been publicly criticised for his pre-war membership of the Nazi party.

And what do we learn from all this? Wouldn't it be better to stop talking about the picture and only look at it? Later in life, Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo: "I almost think that these canvases will tell you what I cannot say in words.“ And precisely for that reason, we think it's worth while talking about his pictures. The more one talks about a picture, the more it will say.






Last Week News

September 19, 2009

Rembrandt Masterpiece - Unseen in Public for 40 Years - to be Offered at Christie's

Full-Scale Retrospective of the Paintings of Vasily Kandinsky Opens at the Guggenheim

Sotheby's Series of Asian Art Sales Totals $19,280,279

Spanish Designer Jaime Hayón Creates Installation in Trafalgar Square

Henry Moore Exhibition at Tate will Reveal the Range and Quality of Moore's Art in New Ways

Gagosian Gallery Presents a Major New Work by Takashi Murakami

Art Detroit Now: 2 Days, 75 Galleries & Museums, 1000s of Artists

Damian Ortega, One of Mexico's Leading Artists of a New Generation, is Subject of Exhibition

Two New York Based Artists, Andrea Geyer and Sharon Hayes, Present their Work in Switzerland

LACMA Appoints Department Head and Curator of Contemporary Art

Letitia Chambers to Join Acclaimed Museum of Native Cultures & Art

Rare Documents Related to the California State Constitution to be Offered at Bonhams & Butterfields in October

First Retrospective of the Work of Renée Green Opens at Musée Cantonal des BeauxArts

Personal Photographs by Munter and Kandinsky Illuminate Guggenheim Retrospective

Sheila Wallis Wins the 25,000 Pound Threadneedle Prize

International Artists will Set Sail into the High Arctic to Work on Individual Projects

Illustrator Barbara Nessim Honored as Norman Rockwell Museum's First Artist Laureate

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Announces Recent Hires

Francesco Vezzoli Examines the Role of the Dalí in Today's Celebrity-Obsessed Society at Moderna Museet

Edward Delaney Sculpture Unveiled at Irish Museum of Modern Art

September 18, 2009

Thomas Campbell Visits the Prado and States Possibility for Loan of Reattributed Painting

New Exhibition at the Zentrum Paul Klee Focuses on Klee's Biography

Tate Gallery Anounces Exhibition for 2010 Including First Major Gauguin Exhibition

PINTA, the Annual Latin American Art Fair, will Present 50 Carefully Selected Galleries

Yale Center for British Art Announces Exhibition of Romantic Drawings

Josh Faught Named 2009 Betty Bowen Award Winner

Major Contemporary Public Art Commission to go on Display as Part of Royal Academy Exhibition

Lady Dai Tomb Exhibition to Open at Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Sculpture Missing from Bernard Madoff's NY Beach Home

Exhibition of Limited Editions at the Irish Museum of Modern Art

The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts Received Grant to Digitize Collection

V&A Museum of Childhood to Present and Exhibition From Paul Trevor's Eastender Archive

Durham Bids to be UK City of Culture 2013: The North East's Best Kept Cultural Secret

Vauxhall 48-Hour Road Movie Challenge at Branchage Jersey International Film Festival

The Brunei Gallery to Show Contemporary Indigenous Tapestries by the Fancy Stitch Group

Director and Chief Curator of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art Presents Young Israel Artist Aram Gershuni

Arts Council England Announces Improved Grants for the Arts

SUNY Plattsburgh Finds, Donates Ancient Fossil to New York State Museum

Lucy Mitchell-Innes Appointed President of the Art Dealers Association of America

Construction Scaffold in Downtown Louisville will Become an Interactive Digital Installation

September 17, 2009

Leading Contemporary Artists Donate to "Art for Africa Auction" at Sotheby's London

"Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs" to Arrive in New York City in April 2010

Caravaggio Masterpiece to Make Rare Chicago Appearance at the Art Institute

The Cleveland Museum of Art Announces Noteworthy Additions to a Distinguished Collection

NGV Announces Ah Xian as Recipient of 2009 Clemenger Contemporary Art Award

Landmark Georgia O'Keeffe Exhibition Opens at the Whitney Museum of American Art

First Ever Tableau Vivant Created by Acclaimed Artist John Baldessari to be Shown at Sprüth Magers

artnet Auctions Launches Prints Masterworks Auction

$250,000 Top Prize Up for Grabs in Michigan Art Event

Portrait of Tommy Lasorda Installed at the National Portrait Gallery

Maura Reilly Named Senior Curator of the American Federation of Arts

Argos Centre for Art and Media and Siemens Arts Program Presents Actors & Extras

Life and Art of Ron Hurley Celebrated with New Publication and Exhibition

Factura 2009: The Third International Painting Festival of Villefranche de Lonchat Set to Open

Jonathan Darby's New Solo Show "Generation Y?" Opens at Signal Gallery

Baibakov Art Projects to be Lead Sponsor of Landmark Kandinsky Retrospective at the Guggenheim

Rare Presentation of More Than 500 Joseph Beuys Multiples On View at LACMA

Art Competition Finalists Explore Australia's Multicultural Identity

Sales of Chinese Art at Sotheby's Total: $15,532,479 Exceeding Expectations

September 16, 2009

Museo del Prado Closes Sorolla Exhibition After Breaking a Ten Year Old Attendance Record

Marlborough Gallery Features Thirty-Three Bronze Sculptures by Russian Born Artist, Grisha Bruskin

More than a Bookstore, Larry Gagosian Opens New Space to Sell Exclusive Works

Artists Create Works About Mary Magdalene Inspired by Met's New Opening Night Production

Portraits of Aspiring Olympian and Teenage Prisoner Make Shortlist for Photographic Prize

Works by Iron Sculptor Paul Wiedmer on View at Museum Tinguely

Forty-Five of the World's Most Prominent Dealers will be Present at Pavilion of Art & Design London

Second Temple Period Stepped Street Discovered in Israel

Explore the Role of Heroes in Society with Over 100 Works of Art

Sixty New York-Based Artists Featured in Exhibition at Museo D'Arte Contemporanea Roma

Bob Dylan to Exhibit at the National Gallery of Denmark

New Art Institute Exhibition Pieces Together Rarely Seen Photocollage Albums

Former Picture Editor of the Liverpool Daily Post & Echo to Open Exhibition

Spencer Museum of Art Showing International Posters for Peace, Social Justice, and the Environment

The Museum of Modern Art Presents the World Premiere of Joan Braderman's The Heretics

Detroit Institute of Arts Big Art Sale October 1 and 2

Two Solo Exhibitions by Ashish Avikunthak and Sakti Burman

American/Swiss Collaborative Artist Couple Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler Exhibit at Aargauer Kunsthaus

Guantanamo Allocation Center: Initiative Dedicated to Relocating the Remaining Detainees still in Custody

Turner Contemporary Wins Government Funding Bid to Help Kickstart The Learning Revolution in Margate

September 15, 2009

Tiffany Exhibition Coming to VMFA in May Opens at Musée du Luxembourg in Paris

A Celebration of Scottish Art at Sotheby's This Autumn

James Cohan Gallery to Present Fifth Exhibition by Internationally Acclaimed American Artist Bill Viola

Wolfgang Laib's Without Place-Without Time-Without Body to be Installed at The Nelson-Atkins Museum

Nominees for the National Gallery Prize for Young Art 2009 Show their Works at Hamburger Bahnhof

Arte Laguna Art Prize, the Future of Contemporary Art

50 Acclaimed Artists Give Away their Works for Free in the Last Ever Free Art Fair

Farnsworth Launches Andrew Wyeth Memorial Endowment Campaign

First Monographic Exhibition of Works by Guercino Opens in Switzerland

Actor Robbie Coltrane Portrayed by Peter Howson in Painting to be Offered at Sotheby's in September

Marilu Knode Begins Tenure as Laumeier Sculpture Park Executive Director

50 Artists Who Cut, Burn, Tear, and Shred Paper to Create Compelling Sculpture, Installation, and Video

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Returns Prehistoric Fossils to China

Latest Furniture Series by British Designer Max Lamb to be Shown at 20 Hoxton Square Projects

Significant Exhibition of Ansel Adams Comes to the Columbia Museum of Art

Norman White, Winner of the 3rd d.velop Digital Art Award, to Open Exhibition in Germany

21c Museum Commissions a Massive Site-Specific Installation to be Presented Free of Charge in Downtown Louisville

"Wild Ocean 3D" to Debut at the National Museum of Natural History's Johnson Imax Theater Oct. 2

Philadelphia Museum Opens New Sculpture Garden to the Public

September 14, 2009

Exhibition of Works of Art by Joan Antoni Toledo, Founder of Equipo Cronica, Opens

International Group Exhibition Presents the Work of Six Prominent Rising Artists

Pakistani Artist Farida Batool Presents New Works in Her First Solo U.S. Exhibition at Aicon

Camera Work Gallery Presents Works by French Photographer Jean-Baptiste Huynh

Italian Photographer Benno Graziani's Iconic Photographs on View at Hamiltons Gallery

Lanxess Commissions Unnatural Rubber Exhibition with Warhol Museum

October Gallery to Present Romuald Hazoumé's "Made in Porto-Novo"

Nassau County Museum of Art to Present Norman Rockwell: American Imagist

Japanese Art Dealers Association Members Present Exhibitions During New York City Asian Art Week

Cheekwood Museum Celebrates its 50th Anniversary in 2010

Crush, the New Photographic Installation by Paul Kooiker, on View at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

A Work of Art at the University of Leicester has Captured in Time the Human Tragedy of the 9/11 Atrocity

Plains Art Museum Holds Retirement Reception for Sue Petry

Illustration from Myrtle Beach Art Museum Exhibit Traveling to New York

The Museum of Contemporary Photography Presents Robert Adanto's The Rising Tide

Design 21 Announces Call for Entries for UNESCO's Dream Center Logo Competition

Mumbai will be Hosting the Celebrated Indian Contemporary Art Expo

Arts Leaders Join U.S. Rep. Olver at Norman Rockwell Museum to Highlight Arts Sector's Role in Economic Recovery

The School of Visual Arts Presents a Panel Discussion Theory and Practice: Aporias of Perfection

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Image of a Christ without a beard, short hair and wearing a toga unearthed in Spain

2.- Giant mosaic unearthed in mysterious tomb in Amphipolis in northern Macedonia

3.- Bonhams sale of 18th century French decorative arts to benefit Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

4.- Paris flustered by erection of 'sex-toy' sculpture; Paul McCarthy slapped by a passer-by

5.- High art or vile pornography? Marquis de Sade explored in Orsay museum exhibition

6.- 'Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection' opens at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

7.- Greek culture minister says Elgin Marbles return a matter of 'global heritage'

8.- Vandals deflate Paris 'sex-toy' sculpture by American artist Paul McCarthy after outrage

9.- Exhibition at National Gallery in London explores Rembrandt's final years of painting

10.- 'Hans Memling: A Flemish Renaissance' opens at the Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez - Marketing: Carla Gutiérrez
Special Contributor: Liz Gangemi - Special Advisor: Carlos Amador
Contributing Editor: Carolina Farias

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org theavemaria.org juncodelavega.org facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site