Vincent Van Gogh’s Portrait of Dr. Gachet captures the resignation and despair that characterized his last physician. Gachet touches a sprig of foxglove- a medicinal herb symbolic of his profession- and stares with devastating pathos into the void. The doctor’s torment awakened his patient’s compassion, but Gachet, through his negligence, may have caused Van Gogh’s death.
…Whereas modern art consisted of revolutionary experiments motivated by a desire to express aspects of the newly-discovered “unconscious mind,” Kuspit argues, postart is shallow, unreflective banality motivated by the desire to become institutionalized; that is, part of the mainstream (along with the commercial reward that such co-opted acceptability brings). In this regard, the messianic zeal with which Van Gogh approached his work represents an ideal because it demonstrates the kind of authentic and individualistic commitment to artistic expression that today’s commercialized postartists lack. The crucifixion has become a cabaret….
Kuspit points out that it was to a very different kind of institution – the psychiatric ward – that modern artists were drawn. In an attempt to understand how the unconscious and madness can affect the creative process, modern artists turned their attention to the artworks of psychiatric patients. Modern art went on to find its greatest glories in the dark and mysterious world of the human unconscious. This is the anti-Allegory of the Cave, an emergence into night. Read More:http://www.themodernword.com/reviews/kuspit.html
I’ve done the portrait of M. Gachet with a melancholy expression, which might well seem like a grimace to those who see it. . . . Sad but gentle, yet clear and intelligent, that is how many portraits ought to be done. . . . There are modern heads that may be looked at for a long time, and that may perhaps be looked back on with longing a hundred years later. VINCENT VAN GOGH, JUNE 1890