Vincent van Gogh: Christianity versus nature (OCULI: Studies in the Arts of the Low Countries)


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This book analyzes the deeper meaning of recurring themes in van Gogh’s œuvre, such as the sower, the sun and the sunflower, against the religious background of his time. It traces the conflict between Christianity and nature that underlies the process of substitution of natural for Christian symbols which we find in van Gogh’s œuvre. The author has made a careful inventory of the principal motifs in van Gogh’s œuvre and studied the ways in which these have been combined and manipulated. By this method it can be demonstrated, not only that initially van Gogh uses explicitly Christian motifs such as the church spire, but also that their function is later taken over by motifs from nature like the sun and the starry night. Kōdera discusses the meaning of these symbols and quotes extensively from contemporary material and from van Gogh’s letters to show how this process of naturalization was influenced by specific artistic sources such as French Naturalist novels and Japanese prints.

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