OIL PAINTING: Arena in Arles, 1888
In early 1888, Vincent van Gogh leaves for Provence in the south of France: "It appears to me to be almost impossible to work in Paris." Van Gogh rents a studio in Arles, the "Yellow House," and invites Paul Gauguin to join him. In anticipation of his arrival, Vincent van Gogh paints still lifes of sunflowers to decorate Gauguin's room. Paul describes the paintings as "completely Vincent." Inspired by the bright colors and strong light of Provence, Vincent executes painting after painting in his own powerful language. "I am getting an eye for this kind of country," van Gogh writes to Theo. Whereas in Paris his paintings covered a large range of subjects and techniques, the Arles paintings are consistent in approach. Vincent van Gogh enters a period of immense creative activity. He has little to distract him from his painting, for he knows almost no one: "Whole days go by without my speaking a single word to anyone." He befriends the local postman, Joseph Roulin, and paints portraits of his entire family. Captivated by the spectacle of spring in Provence, Vincent van Gogh paints the blossoming fruit trees and later, in summer, scenes of rural life.