Van Gogh spent many of his nights alone in a room within that dammned Yellow House of his. When things got too lonely he took too much to drink and met up with a prostitute for company.
Other times he could be found in a bar that had a billiard table.
He didn’t want to be lonely. In fact, he wanted to be surrounded by friends in an artist colony of his creation. This, after the dream of a wife and kids had eluded his grasp. Not that he didn’t still want that, mind you, him and his “wife” show up in plenty of his paintings–a dream unfulfilled–just like his artist colony.
Later he would succumb to his disease and take his life in a lonely field only to stumble home and die surrounded by friends. After this his work took off and we all know at least something about him.
Van Gogh, notorious for being a ‘bit too much’, tried. He tried and kept on trying until it finally killed him. Only after he stopped did art and the rest of the world catch up with him and turned his despair into romantic martyrdom–the perpetual suffering, genius artist.
This scenario has continued to play out until it’s just another art world trope.
The academy justifies this pattern with the idea that his suffering was ultimately worth it. That, in the end, he made it. Not that he realized it, mind you, since he was dead but that is neither here nor there.
Fast forward to the present.
The Van Gogh of today tries. They’ll have a presence and a desperation. They’ll tweet, post, blog, instagram, follow, share, etc.
Nothing will happen.
They’ll become an echo chamber of one. THeir work will languish in a basement after their death. Maybe finding its way to a thrift store to sit in a pile with other discarded dreams.
Or maybe it’ll be found and broadcast like Vivian Maier’s work.
Their unknown lives exploited to maximum effect for the benefit of a sole proprietor that isn’t them. Their story romanticised as “passionate but quit labor”.
Just another story to propagate amongst the artists struggling for a life. Here’s your fate. Be happy–someday you’ll die and we’ll love you for it.