Van Gogh was a Rock Star
With the popularity of singing-related reality shows such as The Voice, American Idol, and The X Factor, the American public – or, really, the global public (several of these talent shows have European and Australian versions) – shows our enchantment with rock (or wannabe) stars every week.
There is an ingrained fascination with singers, musicians, bands. Why?
Performing is primal – and sexy. It’s something that taps into the core essence of our collective soul, the collective unconscious. And, well, because most people either have limited possession of any sort of voice or musical talent – if any at all. There’s a tinge of envy for this talent, for the fame, for the notoriety, for everything that goes with being in the public eye.
There is also something about standing on stage to entertain, to receive applause and instant love from an adoring public that can be addictive. The process of pulling a song from the soul and belting it out in a way only that particular artist can do is nothing short of breath-taking.
But this is not just limited to musical voice talent, and it’s certainly not limited to modern society.
In his day, Vincent van Gogh was a rock star, too.
Van Gogh shared a few qualities with many rock stars such as:
- Living on the edge and an outlier in society: Creatives of all types march to the beat of their own drums. Artists, musicians, writers, inventors – they see and experience the world differently. His Starry Night showcases that brilliantly.
- Highly creative – obsessively so.
- Addictive personality and a little bit (or a lot) crazy: So many artists struggle with addiction of all types. Van Gogh was no exception. He became an alcoholic, addicted to the powerful liquor absinthe, smoked like a fiend, and was addicted to sex. Paranoid, delusional, and suicidal, he suffered from what is now called bipolar disorder, cutting off his own ear.
- Displays the inner life and soul for the world to see: It’s hard to put “the real you” on display for everyone to view, listen to or comment on.
- Constantly evolution and reinvention, sometimes at lightning speed – for everyone to see, with nowhere to hide. They don’t undergo their talent or image metamorphosis in private – it’s all “out there” to be judged by a fickle public. Foibles become magnified when under a lens.
- The desperate need to be adored.
- Sometimes the constant scrutiny, pressure, and judgment are too much, and the brightly burning rock star succumbs, plummeting to Earth.
In the end, van Gogh’s art made him famous, but his behavior made him infamous.