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Van Gogh on ideal v. reality


From a letter dated c. June 18, 1888:

“Alas, alas, it is just as the excellent fellow Cyprien says in J.K. Huysman’s ‘En menage’: the most beautiful paintings are those which you dream about when you lie in bed smoking a pipe, but which you never paint.

“Yet you have to make a start, no matter how incompetent you feel in the face of inexpressible perfection, of the overwhelming beauty of nature . . .

“The symbol of St. Luke, the patron saint of painters, is, as you know, an ox. So you must be patient as an ox if you want to work in the artistic field. Still, bulls are lucky not to have to work at that foul business of painting.”

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