Vincent Van Gogh’s artwork comprises mostly of paintings whose favorite subjects were gardens, trees, fields, and orchards. The Mulberry Tree comes into view in shades of the painter’s sublime yellow with turbulent branches corkscrewing into the sky. In this painting, Van Gogh demonstrates his ability to overstate and convert his subject in order to convey an inner state. He makes use of the two complimentary colours, blue and yellow, to increase the intensity of the impact. This paper seeks to relate this painting to the themes present in two articles- The Heart of Darkness and Theories of Modern Art. These themes are the focus on social class and the mid-19th century urban experience.
The book Theories of Modern Art bases its belief on the idea that statements and writings of painters, critics, sculptors, and poets are legitimate source materials for a study of opinions and doctrines of modern art. In so many reviews, letters, interviews etc several artists portray the message they have on these two topics of social class and urban experience. Social class refers to the status hierarchy in which classification of groups and individuals occurs on the basis of prestige and esteem acquired through accumulation of wealth and success. In relation to the painting of Mulberry tree, the painter can classify the different types of social class present in our society. For example, the upper part of the painting, which comprises of leaves and branches, can represent the upper social class who mostly has the say in the society. The stem of the tree can represent the middle class social class while the roots can be the lower social class. In the book, ‘Theories of modern art’, the artists can talk about this theme in their poems, statements, or even writings.
Urban experience refers to the understanding one gain when in the more built up areas. This comprises of availability of many social amenities, better services, infrastructure, housing, street lighting and many other elements. The artists air their views on this theme in the book ‘Theories of Modern Art’. In the novel ‘Heart of Darkness’, the author brings out the themes of social class and urban experience through several characters. The book’s base is on a character Marlow and his journey up river Congo to link up with Kurtz, a man who has extraordinary abilities and a reputation of being ideal. The book’s main theme is imperialism, which the main character experiences through his journey. Imperialism is the guiding principle of extending a state’s authority by territorial acquisition or the creation of political and economic hegemony over other countries. This in relation to social class happens in most countries, and artists like Vincent Van Gogh best represent this through their artwork.
In relation to the Mulberry painting, the theme of urban experience can be seen in the colours the painter uses to bring out his abilities. The yellow and blue colours are bright, and this brightness is what the urban experience is all about. Joseph Conrad’s book Heart of Darkness in the characters tells more about what happens in social class issues. Imperialism comes about because of social class stratification in which the upper social class has the upper hand in exercising their authority and power. In the 19th century, the people who had knowledge of urban experience were mostly upper and middle social class citizens of a nation.
In conclusion, the two books bring out the subjects of social class and urban experience in different ways and through different means. In relation to the same, the Mulberry painting can be used to explain the themes in the books that are, looking at it from different perspectives. In the end, it is clear to say that art in the 19th century expresses several opinions and ideas of artists like Vincent Van Gogh.