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Vincent van Gogh: Capturing Nature’s Surging Vitality with Irises

Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890) was one of the greatest of the Post-Impressionist painters. The near spiritual excitement of his swirling brushwork, contoured forms and intense colour has had a powerful influence on the development of modern painting. Though much of his work, like this Irises study, is filled with brightness and light, Van Gogh’s own life was filled with personal turmoil.

A severe mental health crisis, in which he now-famously cut off his own ear, prompted Van Gogh to admit himself to the Saint-Paul Asylum at Saint-Rémy in the south of France. His recuperation began with painting of the asylum garden, Irises chief among the resulting output. The close study of nature was the foundation of Van Gogh’s art, as his precise delineation of individual flowers suggests, but he also brought to that study an astonishing degree of subjective intensity. One can emotionally feel the painting’s strong colours, thickly applied paint and powerful decorative rhythms, all of which convey the artist’s sense of nature’s surging vitality.

The Irises was born through a partnership between Paperblanks and the Getty Museum Colletion.

The Getty is a leading international art organization that is dedicated to inspiring human connections and understanding through art. Paperblanks and the Getty have long enjoyed a fruitful relationship, with the museum’s store carrying Paperblanks products for many years.

In 2018, they began to brainstorm ways to take this connection further, and it seemed a natural fit to create a special collection featuring pieces from the Getty Museum as their next step. After all, how better for a museum visitor to commemorate their visit than by taking home a special journal or canvas bag featuring the works of art they just saw?

“Working with the Getty’s team to release our co-branded Van Gogh’s Irises collection has been a very rewarding, hands-on and collaborative experience. Our shared philosophy to honour the integrity and intention of the artist’s original work connected us as we developed the design across a wide range of products, from journals to puzzles, bookmarks and canvas bags. We’re proud of the results and look forward to future co-branded releases with the Getty.” – Faye Mallett, Paperblanks Marketing Director

Paperblanks are honoured to feature this seminal painting from the Getty Museum in their new collaborative collection. Be sure to check out this beautiful and historic institution the next time you visit California, and stay tuned for what comes next in their ongoing collaboration with the Getty.

“Visitors from all across the world visit the Getty Museum to see our famous Van Gogh painting. It’s no surprise that it’s a favorite, and often the first destination upon arrival at the Getty Center. With this collaboration, ‘Irises’ will reach many new audiences and perhaps inspire a deeper study of the artist’s work and visits to our Los Angeles campus.” – Thomas Stewart, Getty Head of Merchandise Development and Retail Store Operations.

Vincent van Gogh’s “Irises” holds profound significance within the artist’s body of work. Painted during his stay at the Saint-Paul Asylum in Saint-Rémy, France, the artwork emerged from a period of personal struggle and mental turmoil. Van Gogh’s decision to admit himself to the asylum marked a pivotal moment in his life, where he sought solace and healing through his art. The vibrant and meticulously rendered irises captured in the painting symbolize hope, resilience, and the enduring beauty of nature amidst adversity. As Van Gogh immersed himself in the therapeutic act of painting the asylum’s garden, “Irises” became a testament to his unwavering commitment to his craft and his ability to find solace in the midst of turmoil.

Van Gogh painted this still life in the psychiatric hospital in Saint-Rémy. For him, the painting was mainly a study in colour. He set out to achieve a powerful colour contrast. By placing the purple flowers against a yellow background, he made the decorative forms stand out even more strongly. The irises were originally purple. But as the red pigment has faded, they have turned blue. Van Gogh made two paintings of this bouquet. In the other still life, he contrasted purple and pink with green.

About the artist

Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890)

Vincent van Gogh was a Dutch Post-Impressionist painter whose profound impact on art is still felt today. Known for his swirling brushwork, intense colors, and contoured forms, Van Gogh’s work embodies the essence of modern painting. Despite personal turmoil and mental health struggles, including the infamous incident of cutting off his own ear, he produced an extensive body of work that continues to captivate audiences worldwide. Van Gogh’s deep connection with nature is evident in his precise depiction of individual flowers and landscapes, revealing an astonishing degree of subjective intensity. His iconic paintings, such as the stirring Irises study, reflect not only his artistic genius but also his enduring quest to convey the surging vitality of the natural world.

About Paperblanks

Paperblanks believe in the power of creativity and the infinite possibilities that start with a blank page. When you connect with a Paperblanks design and the story behind it, you find a trusted space for your thoughts and imagination. Your journal becomes a companion along life’s journey, inspiring you to write, sketch, remember, and dream, as you chronicle what matters most.

Check out this video about the Van Gogh’s Irises