I sat in the Impressionist gallery at the Getty Center on Thursday and watched people looking at the paintings. Though there were other extraordinary paintings in the gallery, people walked directly to Van Gogh's Iris when they entered the room. The intense colors--acid green, yellow, and blue--drew people like moths to a flame. I read in an article just the day before that Van Gogh intended the intense colors to lead people to a near religious revelation--about what? A heavenly vision? The beauty of the world?
I took the time to look carefully at Van Gogh's Iris, not in appreciation of his masterwork, but as a gardener. Yes, that is how Iris grow, how the leaves surge this way and that, like ocean waves, how there is often an odd white or pale Iris flower in the midst of a sea of uniform blues, how powerful sunlight can reflect off a single leaf so strongly the leaf appears to turn white. I have seen what he saw, and marveled, too.
Dear Vincent: goal achieved.
Iris 'Heavenly Vision'