Now I want to go on to examine drawings which have been put forward as authentic pieces by Van Gogh, but which have been rejected by the Van Gogh
Museum for numerous reasons, including ones related to connoisseurship.
I have only looked at four of these drawings, which have been published on line. I will not be addressing any forensic, or technical detail related to
materials used or provenance. I will be pointing out things that caught my eye, as an artist, and which I believe would catch the eye of a Van Gogh
Brouillard Sketch 1:
This is the sketch that is featured on the cover of the soon to be released book, Vincent van Gogh. The Lost Arles Sketchbook
When I first looked at this drawing, I thought, "Wow! This is interesting.", but the more I looked at it, and knowing that there was controversy, I
thought, "This is very like Matisse in the background."
The next thing I noticed, which was a big red flag for me was the circled area at the left of the picture, the edge of the hat.
Artists are very interested in the edges of things and have numerous ways of drawing and not drawing them, for effect.
Here, the artist has drawn the edge of the hat and then left a lacuna between the hat and the rest of the background. It is my opinion that doing this
part of the drawing in this way is a serious breach of Van Gogh's esthetic, even in a sketch.
One also can't fail to notice immediately, although I did
fail to notice it, the large discrepancy between the irises of the two eyes. It would
not surprise me in the least to find similar discrepancies in authenticated Van Gogh works, but this discrepancy seems particularly egregious,
especially considering the deliberate, methodical way in which I believe Van Gogh "built" a drawing, in small increments, always comparing parts to
make sure that they remained integral with the whole of the work.
The beard seems to me to be overworked in an untidy manner, not stylistically compatible with Van Gogh's other work.
The background also, is too busy, too random, too ill considered to be typical of Van Gogh.
In addition to the above, I want to make a subtle point.
My impression of this work is that it is the reverse
of what one would expect from Van Gogh drawing, in which stylistic elements, "tools"
really, are used to create a drawing as an expression of the artist's vision and conception.
In the case of this drawing my feeling is that a drawing was the starting point
, which was used as a vehicle to display the "tools" of Van
Gogh. In other words, the whole point of this particular work is not to express an artist's conception, but rather to express an artist's style.
This work was done by a real artist/forger, but not by Van Gogh, in my opinion.
Brouillard Sketch 2:
This next sketch, attributed to Van Gogh, is for me the most annoying of the ones I have seen, because it violates what I firmly believe was Van
Gogh's basic modus operandi
, which was to work all over the drawing, building it up, knitting it tightly together and keeping it integrated all
In this sketch, the trees would appear to have been done first and the building and sky put in afterward. Note the long curving section of the tree
trunk on the left, which was definitely carried well above the roof line in one passage of drawing. To me that is not typical of Van Gogh.
Notice how some windows are done very nicely and others are just indicated in a very cursory fashion. One might say, "Well it's a sketch and he was
hurrying. He just didn't bother finishing them." Van Gogh, even in a simple sketch, doesn't operate that way, and this is not a simple sketch.
We have seen that he is neat and fastidious in his work.
Notice, circled at the right, the trailing edge of the sketch, the "no throw away zone", one might call it. Here it is thrown away. There is no peek
at the background, no look at the distance, no invitation into the world of the drawing. It is very unlike Van Gogh to do that.
I don't think this drawing is by Van Gogh. It's a pastiche of things we see in his paintings. I am not a connoisseur of Van Gogh. I have not studied
his work as an expert would. I am reacting as an artist. To me, this is a mess and Van Gogh is not messy.
Brouillard Sketch 3:
I have only looked at four of the drawings from the book. One of these, "water, sky and sail boats", for lack of a title, seems altogether too limp to
be a Van Gogh. There is not much of mind or of life in it, in my opinion. If it lives, it is on life suport.
Brouillard Sketch 4:
This last sketch, of the four I looked at, is a pleasant drawing, showing some skill in the handling of the grasses in the foreground, but still,
there is slapdash non Van Gogh-ian "filler" in there too.
The sky, as in the previous sketch is without character and consequently without thought. Maybe there are examples of this in van Gogh's work, but it
doesn't strike me as being characteristic.
One thing that bothered me a lot about this drawing, as an artist, was the neglect of the opportunity to extend the opposite shoreline, in a distinct
way, into the weeds.
No! No! No! No! No! An obvious missed opportunity for the artist to be an artist enhancing the illusion of the piece. This type of thing would have
been purged out of van Gogh's system very early on in his artistic life.
I don't think Van Gogh did this drawing.
I agree with the experts at the Van Gogh Museum. What I have seen, I do not believe is by Van Gogh.
Van Gogh is famous, among other things, for never selling a painting. I'm not sure if that is literally true. However, his dealer, brother Theo, died
within a small number of months of Vincent's death. It was left to Theo's widow to create the market for Van Gogh's paintings, which she did with
considerable skill, I believe.
As a consequence, fake Van Goghs started to appear not long after the artist's death. Are these fakes? I think so. There are serious violations of Van
Gogh's aesthetic in what I have seen and a complete absence of his turn of mind
, although stylistic tools that he used are certainly on
edit on 16-11-2016 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)