Henry David Thoreau has said somewhere :
As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler;
solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.”
Today I want to speak about Vincent Van Gogh.
Can we not live just for life’s sake?
The poets have defined art as for its own sake, there is nothing else beyond it: art for art’s sake.
It will not appeal to the the world around us at all because the world counts things in terms of money, position, power.
Van Gogh, I can say, epitomized the art for art’s sake idiom.
He could not sell a single painting in his whole life.
Not a single person could see that there was anything in his paintings.
His younger brother used to send him money; enough so that he did not die of starvation.
And what Vincent van Gogh was doing was for four days he would eat, and for the three days in between those four days he was saving money for paints, canvasses.
His whole life van Gogh was just giving his paintings to friends: to the hotel where he used to eat four days a week he would present a painting, or to a prostitute who told him that he was not a beautiful man.
Van Gogh was an ugly man in terms of the fact that no woman ever fell in love with him.
He would frequent prostitutes.
And these people who got these free paintings were not proud of having got them either.
For his paintings had no market value then.
Van Gogh lived his whole life in poverty. He died painting.
In his life nobody appreciated his work. In his life no art gallery accepted his paintings, even free.
I want you to ponder on Vincent Van Gogh. I ponder about him all the time.
He must have had the lowest self esteem any man could have.
And yet he continued doing what he wanted to do. To paint.
He painted for painting’s sake.
Moral of the story : Let us just live for life’s sake.