Do you like Van Gogh's art

A camera like eyes


Read on one side

In general, there is a lot of Julian Schnabel in this van Gogh, of all the questions that have haunted him as an artist for years. As in a double exposure, the two artists lie on top of each other. In a way, van Gogh becomes the medium that Schnabel uses to deal with all the questions that haunt him as an artist, to reflect on the essence of art and the artist's perception, and on the relationship between reality and art. Many of the sentences that Schnabel van Gogh (or his artist friend Gauguin) put into his mouth. "When the film was shown at MoMA, I sat next to Francesco Clemente and he laughed because there were a lot of sentences that I used I said to him: 'A difficult space, too much work, you can no longer see anything', that's what I said to him, or when van Gogh says of Monet: 'You have to say thank you for the work you love. Maybe don't you like all of them, but those you like are a gift ', then that is my perception, which could also be van Gogh's. Just like:' When I paint, I stop thinking 'or:' I do become part of everything that is inside and outside of me. ' And when van Gogh says: 'I paint with my abilities and my mistakes', then I absolutely agree. "

What interests the artist Schnabel as a director is perception. With each of his previous films he catapulted the viewer into the very subjective worldview of a hero, starting with Basquiat about the Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas in When night falls and most extreme 2010 in Butterfly and diving bell about the editor Jean-Dominique Bauby. After a stroke, he was trapped in a paralyzed body with locked-in syndrome and dictated his life story at the blink of an eye. The film can be considered a direct precursor to Van Gogh apply, in which he had taken the subjective worldview a little further in order to make Bauby's extremely limited perspective comprehensible: "A screen would have worked completely mechanically, a much too clear change from black to white. If you were in the If you look at the sun through your eyelids, you will see a dark lilac because the light is shining through the red blood of the eyelids. So I thought about how to create this effect and then just held my fingers in front of the lens. "

You can feel how much the excessive visual perception of the artist shapes the view of the director and how his artistic imagination also feeds the films. "A person's perception is not as razor-sharp as a photo in LifeMagazines. For example, I wear glasses that cause things that are out of view to have a different focus than those within. When I look at you it looks very different from what you saw in the mirror this morning when you checked that your hair was combed correctly and that the lipstick was applied correctly. I see the brown wall behind you, the light that shines on your blouse from the side ... In reality, we perceive everything subjectively, and I wanted to ensure that the viewer really sees through Van Gogh's eyes for the duration of the Films slips into his skin. "So he made sure that in Van Gogh the lower edge of the picture is out of focus in the painter's gaze. For this he had a camera lens specially made with two different depths of field.

Pretty emaciated at 37

How consciously and subjectively Schnabel approaches his films is also reflected in the fact that he has cast the leading role with Willem Dafoe, an actor who at 63 years is much older than the painter who died at 37. Surely it would have been a lot easier to finance the film if Schnabel had provided a much younger actor for the role. But Schnabel persisted. "We have known each other for 30 years, are friends, trust each other, I just knew that he had the necessary depth of character," he says. "Willem is also extremely physical and in great shape, whereas van Gogh was already quite emaciated at 37. At that time, life expectancy was 42, now it is 82 - so I would say proportionally they are exactly the same age. But so rational I didn't even think about it. " Schnabel was right. Willem Dafoe has been nominated for countless prizes worldwide, including the Golden Globe and Oscar, for his intense way of transforming himself into the painter not only externally but also internally. And at the Venice Film Festival he was honored with the Coppa Volpi as best actor.

The biggest crux of most artist biopics, however, lies in the representation of the creative act itself. When actors imitate artistic processes or want to depict flashes of brainstorming, it can quickly become caricature. It helps noticeably when it is staged by someone who knows what he is talking about and, if in doubt, can even help with the techniques: "Willem and I have known each other for 30 years," says Schnabel. "I've already painted him, he was with me while I was painting, he's familiar with the work. In preparation for the film, we just painted together. I showed him how to hold a brush, how to mix colors, how." you put it on the way you put the easel together until all the steps look natural. " How do you teach someone to paint? "You sit in front of it and say, 'Look at that! Don't try to paint the whole thing! Don't paint the tree, just look at where the light hits the tree, just this one glowing shape. And then again the other light shape, a little deeper. Do you see the dark shape in the middle? Okay, take that one! ' After a while, the accumulation of all these things will look like a tree. You see him doing it and you believe him because he really paints. " Occasionally Schnabel took up a brush himself: if a picture from the Art Department was too bad or if one of the self-portraits had to be carefully coordinated with Willem Dafoe's physiognomy.

In the end, the question remains whether there are other artists to whom Julian Schnabel feels as much a connection as Van Gogh? "It's hard to say, I've spent so much time with him now," says Schnabel. Then he adds: "But Caravaggio is someone I really appreciate. Caravaggio and Goya." Undoubtedly good film material!