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Van Gogh on Japanese artists


From a letter dated September 24, 1888:

“If we study Japanese art, we discover a man who is undeniably wise, philosophical and intelligent, who spends his time—doing what? Studying the distance from the earth to the moon? No! Studying the politics of Bismarck? No! He studies … a single blade of grass. But this blade of grass leads him to draw all the plants—then the seasons, the grand spectacle of landscapes, finally animals, then the human figure. That is how he spends his life, and life is too short to do everything.

“So come, isn’t what we are taught by these simple Japanese, who live in nature as if they themselves were flowers, almost a true religion?

“And one cannot study Japanese art, it seems to me, without becoming merrier and happier, and we should turn back to nature in spite of our education and our work in a conventional world.”
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