Up Van Goghs with a Fire Hose

I’m a relative newcomer to art appreciation. The spark didn’t catch until twenty years ago, when The Fabulous Wife dragged me to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. It’s the perfect size — you can see the whole thing in two hours — and the walls are devoted exclusively to Van Gogh’s visually and emotionally arresting works, which seem to awe most everyone but especially the neophyte.

I’ve learned a lot since then and have been to plenty of first-tier museums. My favorite artistic period starts with the Impressionists and extends into Abstract Expressionism. But sometime around the advent of Andy Warhol, the visual arts lose me. That could be because The Awesome Sister inherited the bulk of our parents’ terrific visual sense. It could also be because there are bound to be gaps in the knowledge of an autodidact like me.

Whatever the cause, I know it’s my own fault and not the fault of the artists. That’s because artists are perfect, and modern artists are uniformly better than past artists. (They’re hardly even connected — I mean, what would artists from different eras have in common?) So I’ve decided to continue exposing myself to modern art until I understand it.

Today The Fabulous Wife and I visited the Statens Museum for Kunst (National Gallery of Denmark) in beautiful Copenhagen. After strolling through gallery after gallery of highly understandable paintings by dead Europeans, it was time to cross into the new wing of the museum and see the modern art. The Fabulous Wife, who claims she already knows everything she needs to know about modern art, declared it was time to check out the museum shop. That left me to enjoy the modern art all by myself.

That didn’t seem right. Since a joy shared is twice the joy, I decided to make a video for The Fabulous Wife so she could appreciate the amazing art she missed. She was so impressed that she insisted I share this with my blog readers. So I hope both of you enjoy this all-too-brief glimpse of the shattering, ground-breaking work on display at SMK (be sure to turn on the sound):

I know it’s hard to choose, but feel free to let me know which of these works you think most decisively relegates Van Gogh to the dustbin of artistic history.

Former Risk Manager at UC Berkeley, author of four books, ectomorphic introvert.

Former Risk Manager at UC Berkeley, author of four books, ectomorphic introvert.