"R" is for Relationship
This week’s prompt reminded me (it always reminds me of something) of the time a few decades back when I received a marvelous assignment from the French Government Tourist Office – to make a film on Provence.
The region still has that combination of sunbaked earth and startlingly blue sky, enlivened with vivid splashes of color, that made it so popular with artists.
I decided to make Arles, one of the key cities of the area, my headquarters while shooting the film because of a couple of guys who made it their HQ too: the one reponsible for this week’s prompt, Paul Gauguin, and his friend – for a while at least – Vincent van Gogh.
To get back to one of my usual interminable stories, I have always been fascinated by Paul Gauguin.
After living a comfortable life as a stockbroker, and you know how comfortable they are, he one day packed it all in and decided to devote his life to painting.
He headed down to, of all places, Arles, and teamed up with Vincent v G. They could, the two of them, remake the art world of that time.
As it turned out, however, living with Vincent was no day at the plage. In the beginning they were good friends. But gradually Gauguin changed from a fawning admirer to a critic and van Gogh did not appreciate his suggestions as to how he could improve as an artist. They soon quarreled often.
Fact is, Vincent’s mental health was obviously deteriorating. At one point he went after Paul with a razor.
Speaking of razors, it was about this time that there occurred the famous episode of van Gogh’s ear. To get the facts sraight, he did not cut off his ear. He just cut off the lower part of his left ear lobe. He wrapped the severed tissue in newspaper and handed it to a prostitute named Rachel, asking her to "keep this object carefully."
What Rachel had to say to him in response is not known.
Gauguin left Arles, and a few days later Van Gogh was hospitalized. They never saw each other again.
However, the heavily melodramatic relationship of Vin and Paul aside, Arles was, and still is, a splendid town.
I shot some of my film in it, photographing a bullfight.
(Submitted also to Sunday Scribblings.)
1 year ago